Benson seeks nomination for Secretary of State in 2018

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On Tuesday, Jocelyn Benson announced she will seek the Democratic nomination for Michigan Secretary of State in 2018. 

“The people of Michigan deserve a Secretary of State who works as hard as they do,” Benson said. “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.”

In announcing her candidacy, Benson called for a 30-Minute Guarantee to deliver all services managed and overseen by the Secretary of State.  “No one, no matter where they reside, should wait more than 30 minutes to renew their driver license, register their vehicle or cast a ballot,” Benson declared.

Acknowledging ongoing national investigations into the security of election systems and problems revealed in the 2016 presidential election Benson said, “The people of Michigan also deserve a guarantee that our American democracy — the best-in-the-world — will be protected from internal and external threats.  We will fight efforts to intimidate or deceive our voters, and stand up to any threats against voters’ privacy, our voting records, and our voting machines. The outcome of every local, state and national election should always be an accurate reflection of the will of the people.”

Benson, a military spouse and founding member of the Military Spouses of Michigan, knows firsthand how Secretary of State office can fail its citizens, including the men and women serving in our nation’s military.  When Benson’s husband was serving in Afghanistan and mailed an absentee ballot to his local clerk on time and as directed, it was returned to him marked “undeliverable” with no explanation.  Not only was his vote not counted in that election, but when he attempted to renew his driver license during a brief visit to Michigan while on active duty he was forced to wait hours at a branch office for services.

“As a proud military spouse and a working mother, my mission will be to honor the time of every customer who visits a branch office anywhere in the state, be they people working two jobs to make ends meet, single parents, veterans, new drivers or military service members who are protecting our freedoms at home and abroad,” Benson said. “We will do this by increasing efficiencies and delivering results both online and in person.”

In addition to her goal of instituting a 30-Minute Guarantee, Benson intends to expand opportunities to integrate new technologies and best practices that will help citizens avoid waiting in line at branch offices altogether.

Other aspects of Benson’s platform include:

• Ban Fee Increases: As dean of the Wayne State University Law School, Benson froze tuition and significantly increased scholarship funding to make law school more affordable and accessible to all students. Just as she fought tuition increases, Benson will use her proven track record on pocketbook issues to advocate against fee increases that have hit Michigan families hard in recent years.

• Election Security: Benson’s vision is to make Michigan a national model in election security.  She will ensure that voting remains a sacred right and that every legitimate vote is counted.  Benson, who has developed and supervised three election protection efforts in Michigan, will toughen penalties for those who commit voter fraud and voter intimidation, and she will lead an effort to protect our elections from the threat of computer hacking, tampering and manipulation.

• Protecting Voting Rights and Voter Access: Benson will work to modernize our elections, improve poll worker training, and ensure the voting rights of every citizen are protected.  Voters should be able to vote early or by absentee ballot without having to give a reason, just as they do in dozens of other states.   

• Ethics and Transparency: Among the 50 states, Michigan is dead last in government transparency and accountability.  Benson will champion reforms that will make Michigan one of the best states in the nation by shining a light on the secret money flowing into our election process and requiring instant disclosure of all political and lobbying money.

“For too long, our voices have been overshadowed by special interests,” Benson said.  “Our citizens deserve a state government that listens to them.  We must be transparent and accountable, promise a secure democracy that is based upon fair and honest elections, and deliver efficient customer service throughout the state.  As Michigan’s next Secretary of State, I will work on behalf of all our citizens every day to ensure they come first.”

Benson has more than a decade of experience as a national leader in election law and administration.  She is the author of “Secretaries of State: Guardians of the Democratic Process,” the first major book on the role of the secretary of state in enforcing election and campaign finance laws, and promoting fair, accessible and secure elections.

As the former dean of Wayne State University Law School Benson froze tuition, expanded access to scholarship funds for all students, and bolstered the school’s reputation and bar passage rates. She also established programs to promote government oversight, provide free legal services for veterans, and help aspiring entrepreneurs participate in the economic revival of Detroit.

Benson recognizes the challenges facing veterans and military families.  In 2012, while her husband Ryan Friedrichs served in Afghanistan with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, she joined with four other military spouses to establish the Military Spouses of Michigan, a network dedicated to providing support and services to military spouses and their children.  

Benson is currently CEO and executive director of the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE), a national nonprofit.  She serves on several national boards including the advisory board of iCivics, a non-profit founded by retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and dedicated to engaging students in meaningful civic learning.

A long-distance runner, Benson has completed 22 marathons.  She and Friedrichs reside in Detroit with their 16-month old son.

Learn more about Benson and her plan for secretary of state at www.votebenson.com.
 

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