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Jocelyn Benson

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
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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
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. 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The COVID-19 pandemic made “business as usual” at the Secretary of State’s offices impossible. Instead of walking in to renew license plate tags, people have been making appointments. Some of those appointments are months away.

The renewal extension that was implemented is running out on September 30. So, months away is no longer going to work.

ballot box
April Baer / Michigan Radio

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Detroit city clerk Janice Winfrey have formed what they call a “partnership” to help run Detroit’s November election more smoothly.

Detroit had some election troubles during the August primary. There was a mismatch between electronic poll book entries and voter tallies in many precincts, particularly absentee voter ones. That led to calls for Benson to step in and make sure Winfrey’s office could handle things in November.

Polling station sign
user jaina / Creative Commons

The Michigan Court of Appeals has granted a motion for immediate consideration in a lawsuit filed by three Detroit residents, seeking to force the Michigan Secretary of State and Michigan Elections Director to train Detroit's city clerk and its election workers.

The lawsuit was filed after serious problems occurred in the city's August primary. The count in 46% of Detroit precincts did not match the number of ballots in poll books. That means they could not have been  recounted in the event of a recount. 

an absentee ballot on an envelope
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

A Michigan Court of Claims judge has ruled Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson was allowed to send every voter in the state an application to vote absentee instead of in-person. The judge rejected a legal challenge that said Benson, a Democrat, acted outside her authority as the state’s top elections official.

The ruling says the mailing sent to 7.7 million voters before the August primary did not infringe on the Legislature’s lawmaking authority. It says that’s because Benson was executing the will of voters who adopted no-reason absentee voting in 2018.

Detroit brought in new voting equipment for 2017 elections after rampant problems with 2016 vote.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Wayne County Board of Canvassers says Detroit needs help from the Michigan Secretary of State to make sure the November election runs smoothly.

This comes after the board found discrepancies in Detroit absentee voter precincts in the August primary.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is calling on the Legislature to change the law to allow mailed in ballots to be counted if they’re postmarked by Election Day. Right now, if a ballot is received after 8 p.m. Election Day, it’s not counted. In the recent primary election, Benson said many voters were disenfranchised because of the current law.

That's 6,400 voters who did everything right. They mailed their ballots in on time. It was postmarked prior to Election Day. And yet because of our law, they were not able to be counted,” Benson said.

Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says she will send out postcards to nearly four and a half million registered voters, starting next week, to inform them they are eligible to vote by mail, and explain how to do it.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says, based on how the August primary went this week, changes are needed before the November general election.

A record 2.5 million Michiganders voted in Tuesday’s primary, with 1.6 million using absentee ballots (also a record).  

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Voting rights advocates say they are concerned after watching Michigan’s August primary this week.

On primary night, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson described the election as running “smoothly” despite being pushed to its limit.  

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson expects results for the August primary and November’s general election will be delayed, because so many voters are casting absentee ballots.

Roughly two million Michiganders have requested absentee ballots. Much of the demand is driven by concerns about standing in long lines on election day amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

absentee ballot
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

The COVID-19 pandemic has made a lot of things much more difficult. And with less than one week until the August primary day, voting is the latest challenge for many Michiganders.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

More than 1.8 million Michiganders have requested absentee ballots, about two weeks before the August 4 primary.

607,079 absentee ballots have already been returned. Only 484,094 absentee ballots were cast in the 2016 August primary.

Jocelyn Benson
Benson for Secretary of State

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson testified Tuesday before the state Senate Elections Committee.

The first-term Democrat asked the committee to back efforts to keep voting places clean and safe to avoid spreading the coronavirus in the August and November elections.

absentee ballot
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says she will send absentee ballot applications to all registered voters in Michigan for the August and November elections this year.

The decision was made so Michigan voters might avoid crowded polling places during the coronavirus pandemic.

Unemployment office sign
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More than 2,900 of the more than 48,295 employees across the state government have been notified that they will be temporarily laid off due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says employees who have been laid off will retain their health insurance and other benefits, and they will be automatically enrolled into the unemployment process.

ballot
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says it’s possible to make elections more open and more efficient, and still ensure voting is secure and accurate.

Benson says she favors paper ballots over electronic systems like the phone app that created chaos in the Iowa caucuses.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan has a new state elections chief. Elections bureau director Jonathan Brater says his top job is ensuring the integrity and public confidence in elections.

REAL ID driver's license
Michigan Secretary of State

A new state policy makes it faster and easier for people to get a Michigan ID or driver’s license that matches their gender identity.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced the policy change Monday.

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