Secretary of State Benson submits testimony opposing GOP ‘voter suppression bill’

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FILE – In this March 5, 2020, file photo, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson speaks at a news conference in Lansing, Mich. Michigan’s top election official said Tuesday, May, 19, 2020, that absentee ballot applications will be mailed to all 7.7 million registered voters for the August primary and November general election. Benson said the step — announced as the state continues to confront the coronavirus pandemic — ensures no one “has to to choose between their health and their right to vote.” (AP Photo/David Eggert, File)

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson submitted her testimony to the State Elections Committee on Wednesday opposing proposed legislation taken up in the Senate Republicans’ 39-bill “voter suppression” package.

Benson’s testimony can be read here.

“It’s particularly disappointing that on the heels of the most successful, accessible and secure election in our state’s history, where more people voted than ever before, many of the bills taken up for discussion today would eliminate the very policies and procedures that made it successful and replace them with rules to restrict access and erect barriers to democracy,” Benson stated in her testimony.

“For over two years, my office and the clerks throughout this state have sought to work with members of this committee to modernize our election laws in a way that furthers best practices and does right by all voters. Even recently, offering input on several of these and other bills, we have sought to inform you and your staff on the way they are either misguided, poorly drafted, unnecessary, or simply bad policy. Our suggestions are consistently ignored or dismissed. So I am submitting this written testimony today to formally underscore several of the most problematic aspects of these proposals.”

Benson stated that Senate Bill 287 would ban local clerks from prepayping postage on absentee ballot return envelopes, “for no other reason than to make it difficult for all voters, particularly low income voters to exercise their right to vote absentee,” she said.

Benson also said Senate Bill 305 ” would inexplicably bar the most trusted sources of voter education and election information in our state – the Secretary of State and election clerks – from educating citizens about the mechanics of voting.”

Benson also slammed Senate Bill 282, saying it is based “entirely on misinformation about the 2020 election.”

“[SB 282] restricts access to the voter file in a way that would prohibit the staff of the State of Michigan’s own technology department from accessing it – despite the fact that they built it, they update it, and they maintain its security. “

Finally, Benson critiqued Senate Bill 274 in her press release, saying:

“[SB 274] appears to enable 16-year-olds to pre-register to vote, it only provides one narrow path for them to do so and places unnecessary barriers to completing their registration that no other voters face.”

Benson proposed alternative policies after the 2020 election, saying ““I hope today and in the weeks that follow you commit to listening to those voters and our clerks, and work with all of us to truly advance the vote and protect democracy in our state.”

Her alternate policies can be viewed here.

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