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Secretary of State Requests New Election Laws from Legislature

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The 2022 election is quickly approaching and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson asked for help making the process safer and more efficient on Tuesday.

Secretary Benson asked for four major changes in time for this year’s elections, saying each step is easy, bipartisan and fair.

“They are all non-partisan, they support democratic, republican and independent voters alike,” said Benson.

The first request is to allow clerks to count absentee ballots early, and thus speeding up results.

“If legislative leaders truly want to bolster faith in our elections, they need to give voters election results on election night,” said Benson.

Second, appropriate $100,000 to go directly to local clerks.

“Only to be used for election administration and the security of our elections and our election officials,” said Benson.

Speaking of election worker safety, the third ask is increasing penalties for those who threaten them.

“They need support from our state legislature in the form of laws that would require stiffer penalties for those who threaten, harass and doxx election workers,” said Benson.

The fourth ask is to allow overseas military members to vote virtually and avoid slowdowns when mailing in ballots.

“Nearly 25% of military ballots were returned too late to be counted,” said Benson, “Or not counted at all.”

The legislature has passed several changes just for them to be vetoed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. On first read, these new requests seem reasonable to Republicans but the timing and protocol is unnerving.

“I’m not going to say that some of what she’s looking for isn’t necessary,” said Senator Curt VanderWall, member of the Senate Elections Committee, “But it’s disappointing that you do it behind a podium and you don’t come forward, when we’re actually working on the process, so that it could’ve been included in the budget.”

Whether these requests are met or not, Benson did say her office will no longer send mass absentee applications, a very divisive strategy from 2020.

“We don’t see a lot of those same factors present again in 2022,” said Benson, “That’s why we recognize that this is an opportunity for clerks to do it, it’s not something our office will be doing in this cycle.”

Primary Day is coming up in early August so anything that will be put into effect before that date would have to be expedited through the legislative process.