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Jocelyn Benson

Benson touts new changes to SOS branch offices

Jul 19, 2021
the exterior of a Michigan secretary of state express office
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

All Michigan Secretary of State branch offices are now offering extended hours.

Offices are now open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says it's part of a plan to accommodate more customers and cut through the backlog of expired licenses and ID cards that have accumulated during the pandemic.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Criticized for a massive backlog at local Secretary of State office branches, Secretary Jocelyn Benson says her department is taking steps to improve service.

Benson implemented an appointment-only system during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the change from a walk-in system has not been well received.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson
Jocelyn Benson for Secretary of State

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson testified Thursday before a legislative committee about long wait times at branch offices and some possible remedies.

Benson told the House Oversight Committee the COVID-19 crisis helped put in sharp relief some long-standing problems.

the interior of a Michigan Secretary of State office
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Secretary of State branch offices will not be going back to the old take-a-number-and-wait system. Due to the pandemic, offices have required an appointment.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says the people of Michigan have spoken and there’s no plan to go back to the old system.

absentee ballot
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Hearings are expected to begin soon in the Michigan Legislature on a 39-bill Republican election package aimed at reversing absentee ballot access and early voting policies in the battleground state.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, on Thursday slammed the bills, describing them as a response to a problem that doesn’t exist, and that would tamp down legal voting.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s Secretary of State is at odds with State Senate Republicans over appearing before a committee to testify on election security.

The state Senate Oversight Committee is scheduled to meet April 20.

State Director of Elections Jonathan Brater is scheduled to appear.  But Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has declined.

voting booths
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson spoke before the U.S. Senate Rules and Administration committee Wednesday as it debates a series of voting rights bills. She said the 2020 election was conducted without widespread fraud, but that hasn’t stopped some Republicans from attempting to make voting more difficult.

“The election of 2020 is behind us. The war on democracy is escalating," said Benson. "And in addition to the ongoing efforts of democracy deniers to spread misinformation alongside continued attacks and threats against election officials, a new battlefront has emerged in state legislatures all across the country.”

a crowd of trump supporters stand outside of the TCF center in Detroit
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says Michigan has finished the most comprehensive election audit in the state’s history. In short – there was no widespread voter fraud.

Many of the allegations of impropriety were centered on the Democratic stronghold of Detroit. Benson says the audit proves again that those allegations were completely unfounded.

“These efforts are dangerous, racist and undertaken for personal and political gain. They are also completely meritless as proven by these audits and must be treated as such in the future.”

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

First, they lost in court. Now, four pro-Trump attorneys who tried to overturn Michigan’s 2020 presidential election results could lose their ability to practice law.

Michigan’s top three elected state officials are calling for the disbarment of controversial attorney Sidney Powell and three Michigan lawyers who tried to win in court what President Donald Trump lost at the election booth.  

The lawsuit, King v Whitmer, brought by the pro-Trump attorneys, cited false claims of voter fraud.  Similar lawsuits were filed in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin and Arizona.  

On Monday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson filed complaints with the Attorney Grievance Commission of the State of Michigan and the State Bar of Texas.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Supreme Court won’t hear a case challenging the Secretary of State’s decision to mail absentee ballot applications to voters. 

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson mass mailed the applications to registered voters across the state. A Highland Park activist, Robert Davis, sued because he was concerned the unsolicited applications were unlawful and candidates could challenge votes because of that.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Chapter of the Sierra Club’s ‘Environmentalist of the Year’ did not plant a forest or fight pollution. The environmental group is honoring Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.

Jocelyn Benson
Benson for Secretary of State

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has refused an invitation to appear before the Michigan House Oversight Committee.

In a letter to Republican committee chair Matt Hall, she said he’s been complicit in spreading disinformation about the integrity of the November election.

Hall said he was responding to an interview he heard with Benson where she expressed a willingness to appear. He says the invitation will remain open.

“I’m hoping she will come in because I think there’s no one better than the Secretary of State to have a conversation with and answer questions about how we can run this election smoother and how we can restore confidence in our state’s elections,” Hall said.

Dana Nessel
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Protesters who gathered outside Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s Detroit home this past weekend crossed the line from protected speech to threats and intimidation.

That’s according to statements made by Benson, and state Attorney General Dana Nessel. Nessel was a guest on Stateside Monday.

voting booths
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

County board of canvassers meetings are usually the dullest events imaginable. The boards, comprised of two Republicans and two Democrats, meet to review the results of a post-election canvass. That canvass is meant to catch any major irregularities, down to the precinct level, make sure every vote is accounted for, and then certify the unofficial results.

ballot
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Republicans on the Wayne County vote-canvassing board say they want to take back their votes to certify the November 3 election results.

GOP canvassers said in notarized affidavits they felt pressured to certify following a rancorous public comment period.

persoon handle ballot to poll worker
Katie Raymond

Beyond the races, the candidates, and the rhetoric, Election Day featured logistical challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, and a surge of interest in the election.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson joined Michigan Radio's Doug Tribou on Wednesday morning to talk about how things went at the polls and during the count so far.  

voting booths
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said Monday lawyers and election staff are ready to handle any disruptions at the polls Tuesday.

That’s as there’s no word from the state Supreme Court on whether to allow the open carry of guns at polling places.

Nessel said in a phone call that no matter which way the decision goes, there are laws against brandishing firearms and disrupting polling places. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Poll workers are pre-processing absentee ballots in some Michigan cities ahead of Tuesday’s election under a new law.

More than 2.9 million ballots have already been cast in Michigan.

More than 30,000 poll workers have been recruited for this year’s election.

sign marking poll distance banning campaigning at polling places
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

The Michigan appeals court has rejected an appeal from a Democratic state official who wants to ban the open carry of guns outside polling places. The court says said voter intimidation already is illegal.

Polling station sign
user jaina / Creative Commons

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel say it’s not too late to reinstate a ban on openly carrying guns at or near polling places on Election Day.

They are appealing a court ruling that struck down a directive from Benson that banned open carry in and near polling places on Election Day.

"Vote here" sign
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel have appealed a judge’s October 27 decision to block a ban on firearms at polling places this year. Benson has argued that open carry amounts to a form of voter intimidation at polling places. But some gun rights advocates disagree.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

With one week to go before Election Day, a Secretary of State office spokesman says two out of every three absentee ballots Michiganders requested have already been returned to local clerk’s offices.

voter booth
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Gun rights groups are trying to reverse Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s ban on openly carrying firearms where people will vote or where ballots are counted on Election Day. Benson’s office said she has a legal duty to protect voters and poll workers from intimidation, harassment, and coercion.

Three groups filed a lawsuit Friday in the Michigan Court of Claims. Dean Greenblatt is an attorney for the group Michigan Open Carry. He says Benson is acting outside her authority.

straight-party voting
Lars Plougmann

More than half of the three million requested absentee ballots have already been cast, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said at a press conference on Tuesday. 

Benson said that voters have received nearly all of the three million absentee ballots they have requested with two weeks left to go before Election Day. 

"When you reflect on the fact that just under 4.8 million voted in the November 2016 election, the fact that two weeks out, already three million are on track to vote early in this election is just extraordinary," said Benson, predicting that the number of absentee ballot requests will continue to climb.

Polling place
Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said she’s using her authority to ensure fair and orderly elections to ban openly carrying firearms at polling places.

Kari Sullivan / unsplash

A voting education group has  launched a new initiative in collaboration with with Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says voting is more accessible than ever before this election year, and the results will be accurate—but not necessarily quick.

Benson urged Michigan voters to take advantage of early voting, which has already begun, as she picked up a ballot at a satellite clerk’s office in Detroit on Monday. It’s one of 23 satellite clerk’s offices that the city, working with Benson’s office, has established for Detroit voters to register, pick up, and cast their ballots leading up to Election Day.

absentee ballot
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Republican leaders in the Legislature are making their final push to reverse a court ruling that absentee ballots that arrive at clerks’ offices after Election Day must be counted.

The first step is for House and Senate GOP leaders to ask to become direct parties to the case. A motion filed Tuesday asked for standing to challenge a Court of Claims decision.

Jocelyn Benson
Benson for Secretary of State

The Michigan Department of State is notifying millions of potential Michigan voters how to register and cast ballots in the November election. The mailings are expected to arrive in people's mailboxes within a week or so, according to the Department's press release.

Letters are on their way to about 700,000 Michiganders who have a Michigan driver's license or state ID and who are eligible to vote but not yet registered in Michigan. The letters explain how to register and how to apply for an absentee ballot.

congressional map of Michigan
Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

The state is moving forward with preparations for redistricting following the passage of Proposal 2 in 2018. The ballot initiative established the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, which is tasked with redrawing Michigan’s congressional districts based on the 2020 census. Thirteen people—none of whom are political officeholders—were randomly chosen for the commission, which will be overseen by Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office. 

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