Jocelyn Benson | Michigan Radio
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Jocelyn Benson

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
BYTEMARKS / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

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.

People can now apply to be on the state's new 13-member Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced the launch of the online application process Thursday.

sign that says "vote here"
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan is taking steps to secure the state’s voting systems from potential cyberattacks during the 2020 elections.

Federal officials warn that hackers are targeting the upcoming elections — plotting everything from obtaining voter information to spreading disinformation by planting stories online that ballots had been changed.

To help combat that, Michigan has hired its first-ever election security specialist. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says it’s just one in a series of moves designed to safeguard the sanctity of the voting booth.

ballot
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced on Monday that they have filed six felony charges against Southfield City Clerk Sherikia Hawkins.

Jocelyn Benson
Benson for Secretary of State

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson hopes to improve voter engagement among college students.

Benson is taking applications for students who want to be part of a Collegiate Student Advisory Task Force.

She says any student attending a two- or four- year college is encouraged to apply.

“We're looking to bring diverse perspectives to the table, in particular, as we implement the constitutional amendments that were passed by voters last November,” Benson said.

The constitutional amendments allow for same-day voter registration and absentee voting for any reason.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson
Jocelyn Benson for Secretary of State

The passage of Proposal 3 last November means any registered voter in the state can now request an absentee ballot. It seems like Michigan residents are taking full advantage of that. 

Last week's election saw a huge uptick in the number of people who voted absentee. And that has put some county clerks in a time crunch as they work to count a flood of absentee ballots.

congressional districts map of Southeast Michigan
Michigan House of Representatives

Michigan’s top elections official says the Legislature should act quickly to draw new maps for legislative and congressional districts.

A federal court struck down Michigan’s district maps as too partisan. The court ruled Michigan’s lines provide an illegal advantage to Republicans in many districts. Republican leaders in the Legislature say they will appeal the ruling.

ballot
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Michigan voters are free to take a picture of their ballot before they leave a voting booth.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has settled a 2016 lawsuit that challenged a ban on so-called ballot selfies. The ban on displaying completed ballots has been around since 1891.

pile of one dollar bills
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The leader of the state Senate Republicans says he’s not in favor of Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson's call for candidates to disclose their financial information.

Last month, Benson said she wants the Legislature to pass bills that would require elected officials to disclose any outside income, investments, travel or gifts they got as candidates or after they were elected.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s Secretary of State says it’s time to modernize her department’s 131 branch offices.

Jocelyn Benson spent the past few months visiting each office in all of Michigan’s 83 counties. 

She says she didn’t like what she saw.

“Too often people need to wait in line too long to have their business done with the Secretary of State’s office,” Benson told reporters at a news conference in Detroit Thursday. “It is unacceptable and it needs to change.”

Jocelyn Benson
Benson for Secretary of State

Michigan’s new secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, has released details of her personal finances. She says this sort of disclosure should be required of all state elected officials.

She made more than $370,000 last year as the CEO of a not-for-profit organization and a law professor. That was before she took office in January. She has called for a law to require other state elected officials to make public their income sources and potential conflicts.

Democrat Jocelyn Benson
Rick Pluta / MPRN

New Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is urging lawmakers to let absentee ballots be counted before Election Day, and to make other changes following the passage of a ballot initiative that expanded voting options in Michigan.

The Democrat says the number of absentee ballots is expected to increase significantly now that people can vote absentee for any reason. Benson wants clerks to be able to start counting ballots four days before Election Day.

A detail Michigan congressional district maps drawn in 2011.
Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget

Today on Stateside, how recent developments in a federal gerrymandering lawsuit could shift some Michigan congressional and state legislative districts ahead of the 2020 election. Plus, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we hear from Michigan State University Dean Emeritus Robert Green about his experiences working alongside Dr. King during the Civil Rights Movement. 

Listen to the full show above or find individual segments below. 

Jocelyn Benson
Benson for Secretary of State

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson plans to challenge a new law that could make it tougher to collect signatures to initiate legislation or ballot proposals.

Previously, organizers collected signatures by county with no limit on how many could be gathered.

The new law limits the number of signatures that organizers can collect from voters in any given congressional district.

Jocelyn Benson
Benson for Secretary of State

Today on Stateside, the partial government shutdown hit the two week mark today. Is there a compromise in sight? Plus, the EPA reversed a ban on a popular insecticide produced by Michigan-based DowDupont, despite evidence that the EPA based its decision to scrap the ban on misleading science.

jocelyn benson and mary treder lang
Benson for Secretary of State / Mary Treder Lang for Secretary of State

In the state of Michigan, the Secretary of State oversees public notaries, vehicle registration and automotive licensing, and, perhaps most importantly, serves as the state’s chief elections officer. 

This November, Michiganders will vote to replace incumbent Ruth Johnson (R), who cannot run again due to term limits. Election security and how to best preserve the integrity of Michigan votes are key issues in this race. 

Ballots
Flicker / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The state's voting system needs to be improved to ensure that overseas military ballots are received on time and counted, according to Jocelyn Benson, Democratic candidate for Michigan Secretary of State.

Benson unveiled her military voting plan Tuesday, as part of her pledge "to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat."

Michigan State Capitol Building
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Democratic Party finalized its portion of the November ballot this weekend.

The Democrats held a so-called Endorsement Convention in April. It was there that they decided which candidates to throw their weight behind for races like attorney general and secretary of state.

Democrat Jocelyn Benson
Rick Pluta / MPRN

Michigan's Democratic Secretary of State hopeful wants stricter penalties for tampering with voting equipment.

Jocelyn Benson, who announced plans to improve Michigan’s election security today, says there is no evidence to suggest any state elections have been tampered with, but she says the threat is not to be taken lightly.

Michigan State Capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

It’s national Sunshine Week – a time when officials and reporters shed light on access to public information.

Could a super achiever fix an underperforming system?

Mar 23, 2017

Jocelyn Benson stood in line for two hours waiting to vote last November, holding her five-month-old son Aiden all the while. “I had to put him down and change his diaper twice,” she told me, smiling. Benson lives and votes in Detroit, where there are often too few voting places and machines for large turnout elections.

Today is Election Day in local communities all across Michigan. But politicians being politicians, many are already looking ahead to next year’s statewide and congressional elections.

For everyone in the game, deciding whether to run is a matter of weighing hope versus experience; ambition against common sense. Sometimes, long shots pay off. On paper, it made no sense for a freshman senator to run for President six years ago, and not just because there was a formidable front-runner. 

The challenger was black. I thought his candidacy was hopeless. But as the world knows, I was gloriously wrong. However, back in 2000, Barack Obama was the one who was wrong. He challenged an incumbent congressman in a primary race. He lost by more than 2-1, drained his finances and strained his marriage for a time. Every situation is different.

But now, one of Michigan’s potentially biggest stars faces her own dilemma. Few have accomplished as much at a relatively early age as Jocelyn Benson. Barely 36 years old, she is already interim dean of Wayne State University law school. She has degrees from Wellesley, Oxford and Harvard Law. She has a stunning resume that includes stints working for the Southern Poverty Law Center, the NAACP, NPR and the revered federal appeals judge Damon Keith. 

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