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Benson testifies before elections panel; doesn’t take questions

Jocelyn Benson
Benson for Secretary of State

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson testified Tuesday before the state Senate Elections Committee.

The first-term Democrat asked the committee to back efforts to keep voting places clean and safe to avoid spreading the coronavirus in the August and November elections.

She also asked lawmakers to encourage voters to use absentee ballots so fewer people have to go to the polls during the COVID-19 crisis.

“This is a responsibility that I and our clerks take very seriously ahead of the elections that are coming, and our priority is ensuring that choices are available for voters, and that all choices can be exercised safely,” she said.

Benson also said there should be a law to punish spreading false information about elections.

“They are a real threat to the health of our republic, and they will escalate in the months ahead.” 

Benson testified remotely. She delivered her prepared remarks, and said she would only stay to answer one question due to a prior commitment.

The committee chair is Senator Ruth Johnson. She is a Republican former Secretary of State. Johnson said Benson should have made better plans.

“The reason why we have meetings is so that we can ask questions. Many of us have constituents that have asked us a lot of questions, and our job is to get answers to them, and I’m disappointed that time was not allowed to do that.”

Johnson asked Benson to schedule a time to return and answer questions on upcoming election plans.

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Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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