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Secretary of State and Legislature Clash on Election Reform Bills

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Update 5/27 – Republicans have revised their absentee voting bill to allow voters to write in their driver’s license or social security number instead of including a copy of their ID.

Both sides of the aisle in Lansing have been calling for election reform since the chaos surrounding the November 2020 election.

But it’s the details of the reform that have been highly debated and that continues as the legislature pushes a massive package of reform bills.

“Bottom line is a lot of these bills will make it more difficult for our election officials to run their elections,” said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.

Following the November 2020 election, Secretary Benson felt the issues that hung up ballot counting across the state could be solved with simple reform.

The Republicans in the legislature agreed. They made their changes through a 39-bill package. Though if you ask Benson, none address the issues she was eyeing.

“I’m frustrated because we have really two competing approaches to lawmaking,” said Benson, “Meaning on one side we’ve got the truth and the reality of our elections. They were safe, secure and highly accessible. On the other side, you have folks responding to a lot of the misinformation and trying to legislate off of that.”

Benson highlighted a few specific bills in a press conference with Attorney General Dana Nessel Wednesday. One concerning photo identification and being able to present a copy of an ID card instead of the real thing.

“But it’s an option that would unnecessarily open up someone to the potential for identity theft,” said Benson, “Particularly our senior citizens.”

Another bill was highlighted in a mailer sent out by Senator Jon Bumstead, called out by Benson on Twitter. The mailer pushed the success of the big package, including a deadline for counting absentee ballots, setting at noon the day after elections.

“Even if the counting of every vote wasn’t completed,” said Benson, “It was oddly close to the ‘stop the count’ calls that many protesters made during the tabulation of the vote.”

Benson wants accessibility and ease. Republicans want accuracy and security. Both sides claiming the other’s needs are already met.

“It sort of reflects the fact,” said Benson, “That we need to work from the same set of data the same set of facts.”