Jocelyn Benson enters race for secretary of state

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By David Eggert
Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Election law expert Jocelyn Benson announced Tuesday that she’s running for Michigan secretary of state, saying no one should have to wait more than 30 minutes to renew a driver’s license, register a vehicle or vote.

It is the second time the Democrat has sought the position. She was the party’s 2010 nominee but lost to Republican Ruth Johnson, who cannot run for a third term in 2018.

Benson said the half-hour guarantee should apply to residents across the state “no matter where they reside.” She launched her campaign outside a secretary of state branch in Detroit and scheduled afternoon events in Grand Rapids and Lansing.

It has been more than 22 years since a Democrat held the office, which oversees elections and issues driver’s licenses and plates. Benson, 39, led the Wayne State University Law School for nearly four years and is currently CEO of the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality, a nonprofit founded by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross to improve race relations and drive social progress.

“The people of Michigan deserve a Secretary of State who works as hard as they do,” Benson said in a statement. “We need to show the hardworking people of Michigan that their time matters. They have the right to demand efficient service and results and, under my leadership, the Secretary of State’s office will deliver.”

She pledged to make Michigan a national model in election security, to prohibit fee increases and to expand absentee or early voting. She also said she would champion changes designed to make lobbying and political spending more transparent.

Benson, of Detroit, wrote a book about the role secretaries of state play in elections. She is the first Democrat to enter the race. Republican candidate includes Shelby Township Clerk Stan Grot and accountant Mary Treder Lang.
GOP and Democratic delegates will choose their secretary of state nominees at conventions next summer.

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