S.O.S Benson Releases Statement On Calls from Election Clerks for Greater Support from Legislative Leaders

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has released a statement following calls from state election clerks for legislative leaders to provide greater support.

“I’m so proud of Michigan’s hardworking local election clerks for taking a stand, demanding investment in our elections, and calling for fact-based, data-driven policymaking,” said Secretary of State Benson. “It’s time for Michigan’s legislative leaders to stop acting on misinformation, listen to the experts, and strengthen our elections.”

In an open letter to Michigan’s State and Legislative Leaders, Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks President and Delta Township (Eaton County) Clerk Mary Clark, along with Michigan Association of County Clerks President and Menominee County Clerk/Register of Deeds Marc Kleiman, state, “we need our leadership to focus on problem-solving rather than political wins and losses.”

They additionally note, “administering the 2020 election was unlike any election in Michigan’s history,” and, “Nearly everyone can agree that changes are necessary.”

Moreover, Clark and Kleiman state that, “Consider the pressure on frontline election administrators: zero increase in state funding, no pre-processing of absentee ballots to ensure more timely and accurate tabulation and no substantive changes to address voter concerns. All of these shortcomings foster voter mistrust in the election process by which we select our leaders. Our objective continues: administer secure, accurate, transparent and fair elections. Without the support of state leaders, we cannot fully achieve our objective.”

The following are a list of solutions listed in the letter by Clark and Kleiman of which they call a “good starting point:”

  • Provide funding assistance for the staff and infrastructure (including drop box security and postage costs) needed to process an over 100% increase in the number of absentee ballots statewide since Proposal 18-3 and the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Allow for the secure and transparent pre-processing of absentee ballots to provide accurate and timely election results. The model exists in 19 other states that currently process mail-in ballots prior to Election Day.
  • Allow for a functional structure to offer early voting as an option for Michigan voters.
  • Require both training and reasonable access for election challengers. Our voters benefit when informed citizens engage in election observation.
  • Ensure the fullest transparency possible by requiring post-election audits to be public.
  • Allow additional time for clerks to audit and certify our statewide primary election by moving the primary from August to June. This additional time gap is in line with 31 other states and will allow more time to program and proof ballots for the general election.
  • Allow clerks to better clean Michigan’s voter rolls by removing deceased voters more quickly, continuing to eliminate the records of voters who move out of state and requiring a mandatory cancellation of voters who have been flagged in the system following the requirements of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).

To read the full open letter to Michigan legislators, click here.