AUGUST 28, 2020
Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson testified before the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security this afternoon on how to protect America's democracy and ensure every vote counts this November.
"Between a global pandemic and what seems near constant and escalating rhetoric and misinformation, 2020 has brought historic pressures on our elections systems," said Secretary Benson. "In Michigan our statewide primary has served as a blueprint for running safe, secure, accessible elections during the COVID-19 pandemic, while also highlighting critical needs that, if addressed, can put every state on a path towards successful November elections."
During her testimony, the Secretary discussed the Aug. 4 statewide primary, where collaboration between local, state and federal officials, coupled with sustained voter education efforts to inform people of their rights and how to exercise them, resulted in record-breaking turnout. 2.5 million Michiganders participated, a record for an August election, with 1.6 million voting absentee, shattering the previous record for total absentee ballots cast. Voters had numerous options for casting their ballot, which spread voting out across multiple methods and resulted in safe in person voting and absentee ballot counting despite the high turnout.
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Secretary Benson also spoke of the need for partnership and additional support from state and federal officials to replicate the same success in November. She called on the Michigan Legislature to pass legislation that would provide clerks additional time to process absentee ballots ahead of Election Day, as 18 other states already allow, as well as bills that would ensure voters who cast absentee ballots are not disenfranchised. She also called on the federal government to fully fund the postal service and to provide another round of funding to states to shore up election preparations.
"Democracy is a team sport, and if we work together we can succeed in holding elections this fall that are secure, on schedule, and an accurate reflection of the will of the people." said Secretary Benson. "It's possible, it's doable, and our voters should demand no less from their government."
Read a full copy of her testimony.
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