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Jocelyn Benson

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. 

Bobby McKenzie / Facebook

A former State Department official announced today he will begin his campaign for Congress in Michigan’s 11th District.

Bobby McKenzie, a Democrat known for his counterterrorism expertise, is running for the seat currently held by Republican Kerry Bentivolio.

Democrat Jocelyn Benson
Photograph courtesy of the votebenson.com website

As you've likely heard by now, a state election panel will have to decide the official outcome of Detroit's mayoral primary. That's because Wayne County's election board refused to certify the election. It should be noted that the county election board acted on the very last day before the deadline to certify the election.

The controversy centers on some 20,000 write-in votes that may have been incorrectly marked by Detroit poll workers.

Former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan appeared to win the primary handily over Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon.

Despite running as a write-in candidate, Duggan won by about 16 points, according to unofficial results.

But if these almost 20,000 write-in votes get thrown out, the two winners would switch places, with  Napoleon coming out on top, and former Detroit Medical Center Mike Duggan finishing second.

Whatever the outcome, Duggan and Napoleon will face off in November.

But this drama raises many concerns, including the ability of Detroit poll workers to do their jobs properly, whether there needs to be a recount, and whether---as suggested by Benny Napoleon--the U.S. Department of Justice needs to babysit the big November election.

Jocelyn Benson, interim dean of Wayne State University's law school and an expert in Michigan's constitutional and election law, joined us today to help us sort this all out.

Listen to the full interview above.

Some Michigan voters were wrongly turned away from the polls last Tuesday after refusing to affirm their US citizenship.

But some other voters—and an elections watchdog group—say they also encountered problems with misguided enforcement of the state’s voter ID law.

Fighting for a Future

Apr 22, 2011

Here’s something you may not have thought about: Who are the Michigan Democratic party’s future leaders? The Republican landslide last fall eliminated a generation of politicians.

Today, the Democrats don’t have a single statewide officeholder, other than some judges and school and university board members.  Five of the six Democratic congressmen are elderly.