Secretary of State candidate visits EUP
SAULT STE. MARIE — Wrapping up a busy week in the Upper Peninsula, Michigan Secretary of State Democratic candidate Jocelyn Benson made a stop in Sault Ste. Marie to discuss the key points ahead of November’s election.
Benson, fresh off stops at the UP State Fair in Escanaba and Marquette, arrived in the Sault Friday morning. She was promoting her “30-Minute Guarantee” approach to the Secretary of State as well as election security and government transparency.
With current Secretary of State Ruth Johnson terming limiting out in November the state will have their first new person at the post since 2011. Benson is the only Democrat candidate and will compete with Republicans Stan Grot, Joseph Guzman and Mary Treder Lang. Libertarian Gregory Stempfle is also in the race.
“It’s not about the party, it’s about the person,” said Benson, who has wrote a book about Secretaries of State in 2010. “I’m not a political person, I’m not a partisan person, but I want to do this job. I think you see that regardless of party, the best Secretary of State aren’t party activists but are rule of law experts.”
Benson has previously served as Dean of Wayne State University Law School from 2012 until 2016. In 2010, Benson ran for Secretary of State as a 33-year-old.
“The office has two primary responsibilities: overseeing all of the driving and all of the voting. In that regard, it interacts with more citizens than any other office in the state,” she explained of the post. “Everyone goes to the Secretary of State office and hopefully everyone votes. You have an impact on everyone’s lives. That’s the genesis of my ’30-Minute Guarantee.’”
The guarantee Benson is promoting is to eliminate wait times at the Secretary of State. It’s an idea that a person should be able to get in and out of a branch office or polling office in 30 minutes or less.
“It gives you the opportunity to make things work better on a day-to-day basis for our citizens,” she elaborated. “Then, overseeing elections is really the bedrock for everything we fight for.”
Benson called 2018 a “transformational moment” for democracy in regards to election security. She said having a Secretary of State that can come in on day one would be key in moving forward to make secure elections from outside threats.
“One of the things I will do as Secretary of State is implement risk-limiting post-election audits,” she declared. “It’s a way to randomly audit voting machines at any point during the elections to make sure they’re accurately counting ballots. Two states have this already (Colorado and Rhode Island.) I want to make Michigan the third state to do this, because experts find this the most secure way to check accuracy of our voting machines.”
With family in the UP Benson said another goal of hers would be to stop drivers’ fee increases. She said fees have climbed up 18 percent in the past few years.
“For me, it’s a primary component of my platform – to hold the line on new drivers’ fee increases,” she said.
Taking care of drivers and making trips to the Secretary of State painless was another major sticking point.
“Some people can’t drive to a branch office in their county. I think finding other creative ways to bring state services closer to the citizens so it doesn’t create a drain on your time,” she said. “My goal is to save citizens time, money and amplify their voice in Lansing.”
Overall, Benson said she would like to see Michigan become a leader in the country on voting security and convenience with dealing with the government. She emphasized transparency is also key to keeping government in check.