Jocelyn Benson Outlines Plan to Improve Voting for Military Personnel

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 18, 2018

Jocelyn Benson Outlines Plan

to Improve Voting for Military Personnel

SOS candidate’s voting reforms would aid Michigan residents overseas 

Michigan Secretary of State Candidate Jocelyn Benson today restated her pledge to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat by renewing her call for a Michigan Voter Protection Plan to protect the voting rights of military personnel, including those serving the country overseas. 

Flanked by veterans and supporters at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6691 in Fraser just days before local clerks are required to mail absent voter ballots to military personnel and others who are out of the country, Benson said Michigan needs to offer those serving in the military, the same privileges Armed Forces personnel receive in other states.

 “The notion that the voting rights of active duty military are sometimes disenfranchised is unacceptable,” said Benson, a co-founder of the Military Spouses of Michigan.  “It is time for Michigan to ensure that Michigan’s service members are able to fully participate in the democracy they are fighting to protect.”

Under Benson’s plan Michigan will:

·       Implement online voter registration to make it easier for troops stationed overseas to register to vote;

·       Allow military ballots that are postmarked on or before Election Day to be counted as opposed to the current law that requires ballots to be received on or before Election Day;

·       Allow military service members serving in a “hostile zone” to return ballots by secured web portal or fax, followed by a paper ballot via the U.S. Mail;

·       Require local clerks to absorb the cost of postage-due on paper ballots returned to their offices, a practice sometimes followed by local clerks.

The election law expert and author of Secretaries of State, Guardians of the Democratic Process has highlighted the changes needed in military absentee ballots since 2012 when her husband, Ryan, was serving in Afghanistan. His absentee ballot – while obtained, signed and returned as directed – was returned undeliverable and his vote was not counted.

“It’s time for Michigan to step-up and recognize the contributions of our military by ensuring their votes will be counted,” Benson added.

Joining Benson for her announcement were several Macomb County officials including Executive Mark Hackel, Prosecutor Eric Smith, Sheriff Anthony Wickersham, and former State Representative Marilyn Lane of Fraser, who served on the Michigan House Democrats’ Veterans’ Services Task Force while a member of the State House.  

“I was among the first to publicly endorse Jocelyn Benson for Michigan Secretary of State and this is one of the reasons why,” Hackel said.  “Jocelyn has a proven track record of providing real results for the people of Michigan and what better example than protecting the voting rights of our service men and women.” 

Prosecutor Smith, another early endorser, said Benson’s attention to detail and knowledge of the law will make her an excellent Secretary of State. 

“Jocelyn Benson is an election law expert and a proven administrator who will apply the law fairly and make certain that our vote remains sacred and our elections secure.” Smith said.

Benson’s plan for election security is a factor in Wickersham’s support. 

“Jocelyn Benson has a plan for protecting our sacred right to vote and ensuring that our elections remain secure,” Wickersham said.  “Michigan’s next Secretary of State must be prepared to be our chief elections officer on day one and Jocelyn Benson is that person.”

Lane, a former state representative and mayor of Fraser, is a long-time advocate of veterans who said she looks forward to the changes Benson is proposing.

“Jocelyn Benson is proposing common sense changes that will help guarantee that a vote cast by a member of the Armed Forces will be counted.  What could be more American than that?” Lane asked rhetorically. 

Protecting the voting rights of active duty military personnel is among the top priorities Benson listed when announcing her campaign last year.  For more about Jocelyn Benson visit: www.votebenson.com

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