Former Michigan Elections Director Chris Thomas Endorses Jocelyn Benson for Secretary of State

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Veteran of four SOS administrations calls Benson “uniquely qualified”

Michigan’s long-time former Director of Elections Christopher Thomas, who remains among the most respected elections administrators in the nation, today endorsed Jocelyn Benson for Michigan Secretary of State.

Thomas, who served as elections director for former Michigan Secretaries of State Richard H. Austin, Candice S. Miller, Terri Lynn Land and Ruth Johnson, said Jocelyn Benson is an outstanding leader whose knowledge of election law and the elections process make her an excellent choice to become Michigan’s next chief elections officer.

“Jocelyn Benson’s priority is to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat, two goals that address voters’ access to the ballot and the security of our elections,” Thomas said. “Jocelyn’s knowledge of elections and rule of law make her uniquely qualified to ensure that Michigan’s elections will remain fair and balanced.”

Thomas is a fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C. and serves on the boards of two distinguished election organizations: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Election Data and Science Lab and the U.S. Vote Foundation. In 2013 he was appointed to serve on the Presidential Commission on Election Administration, which made recommendations to improve the election-day experience for America’s voters.

Thomas is a founding member of the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) which elected him president in 1997 and 2013. He received the group’s Distinguished Service Award in 2012.

“To receive Chris Thomas’ endorsement is both an honor and a source of pride,” Benson said. “Everyone across the country, including me, who has worked in the trenches on election issues has the utmost regard for his knowledge and understanding of our elections system and his integrity. His word is above reproach and to know he entrusts Michigan’s election system to me as the next Secretary of State speaks volumes.”

As Director of Elections, Thomas administered Michigan Election Law, Campaign Finance Act and Lobby Disclosure Law. He began his career in with the U.S. House of Representatives and the Federal Election Commission. A member of the State Bar of Michigan, he graduated Thomas M. Cooley Law School where he taught election law between 2001 and 2013, and where he remains an adjunct professor.

Benson, who has also been endorsed by 10 current and former Secretaries of State around the country including Oregon Governor Kate Brown, has outlined sweeping changes to ensure the security of Michigan elections including:

  • Risk-Limiting Post-Election Audits (RLA)
  • Improved Poll Worker Training, Recruitment, and Accountability
  • Convene an Election Security Commission
  • Tough, New Penalties for Equipment Tampering
  • Strengthen the Accuracy of the Qualified Voter File

Under Benson’s plan Michigan will join the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), a self-governing non-profit dedicated to improving the accuracy of voter files through cross-state data matching and electronically verifying voter registration records using other national databases.

In addition to securing Michigan’s elections and protecting voting rights, Benson plan for the Secretary of State’s Office includes a 30-Minute Guarantee for services overseen by the Secretary of State, a ban on fee increases that have hit Michigan families hard in recent years, and expanding ethics and transparency in state government.

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