Johnson says Benson ‘AWOL’ when it comes to working with Legislature

LANSING, Michigan— Sen. Ruth Johnson on Tuesday criticized Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson for spending too much time on partisan press conferences and not enough time working with the Legislature to improve Michigan’s electoral systems.

“When it comes to supporting bipartisan election legislation that improves our electoral processes and serves Michigan voters in both parties, Secretary Benson is great at holding press conferences, but AWOL when it comes to doing the job to do it,” said Johnson, R-Holly. “We passed common sense electoral reforms with bipartisan support – only for the governor to veto the bills. These measures included allowing more polling station locations, requiring better training for election candidates, limiting third-party access to the roster of qualified voters, and assisting local clerks in removing deceased persons from the voter register. Where was Secretary Benson?

At a Tuesday press conference, Benson called on lawmakers to approve legislation giving clerks more time before Election Day to process mail-in ballots and legislation allowing electronic voting by military personnel serving in the military. stranger and their families.

“Last year, I introduced Senate Bill 334 to remove the sunset on the 2020 law permitting the preprocessing of ballots from absentee voters in a manner that protects the integrity of the ballot, but I have not yet received any communication from Secretary Benson regarding him. concerns about that,” Johnson said. “The Senate has already passed measures sponsored by me and Democratic Senator Paul Wojno to allow our brave servicemen to electronically return their ballots using the same secure technology they already use to transmit classified documents.

“The legislation is the result of meeting with troops and military leaders during a tour I took of the Middle East with a bipartisan group of state secretaries – but it continues to be sabotaged by the Secretary Benson because it is limited to the military.”

Benson also asked the state for $100 million a year for locals to run elections and for the Legislature to increase penalties for threatening election workers.

“We already have strong laws in place to address harassment, threats, and intimidation of our valued election workers, and Secretary Benson has never appeared before the Senate Appropriations Committee or requested a meeting with me. or my colleagues to discuss increased state funding for elections,” said Johnson, who served as Michigan’s secretary of state from 2011 to 2018. “At the same time, the secretary sits on 16 millions of dollars in federal funds Help America Vote Act and will not say how it spends the money or comes to the Senate Elections Committee to answer questions about it.

Senate Bill 311, sponsored by Johnson, would require the state to establish a process for members of the armed forces, who are on active duty, absent from the United States and who are not expected to return home in time to vote. , to electronically return their ballot to the clerk of their city or township using an electronic signature verified by the United States Department of Defense.

SB 8, sponsored by Wojno, D-Warren, would define “United States Department of Defense verified electronic signature” as the digital identification code based on a certificate issued to qualified personnel by the DOD as common access card or its successor.

A CAC is an encrypted smart card that serves as identification issued to active duty military personnel by the DOD. A service member would need their CAC card along with their password or PIN to securely transmit their ballot.

Bipartisan election bills vetoed by the governor include House Bill 4492approved 84-21 in the House, to allow additional polling place locations in a limited list of specific private locations; HB 4528approved 81-24 in the House, to require training for election challengers and increase training for election workers on the role of challengers; HB 4837, approved 72-33 in the House, to bar unapproved third parties from accessing the roster of qualified voters; and SB 277approved 80-25 in the House, to allow county clerks to assist local clerks in removing deceased voters from the roster of qualified voters more quickly.

“Secretary Benson remains MIA to give updates or answer questions during Senate Elections Committee hearings. It’s a disservice to the people of Michigan,” Johnson said.

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