Jun 11, 2010
SOS candidate Benson reiterates her support for early voting in Michigan
The Democratic candidate for Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced today her intentions to take an “Oath of Nonpartisanship” win she is elected as the next Secretary of State and takes office in January 2011.
“I firmly believe that our Secretary of State must operate the office in a nonpartisan manner,” Benson said at the annual meeting of the Oakland County Women Officials’ Network on Friday. “That's why upon taking office I will take an Oath of Nonpartisanship, pledging to the citizens of Michigan that I will operate the office in a neutral and nonpartisan fashion.
“To Michigan voters that means you won't find me co-chairing any campaigns or endorsing any candidates in elections over which I will serve as the final certifier of election results,” Benson said. “Michigan citizens deserve to have full confidence that their elections are clean, honest and fair.”
Benson also took the opportunity on Friday morning to reiterate her support for Early Voting in Michigan.
“A citizen casting a vote is the lifeblood of our democracy,” she said. “In these tough economic times, when some families are having to work more than one job to make ends meet, early voting options help them to still be able to vote and be heard.”
Citing a recent Michigan League of Women Voters poll that showed 70 percent of Michigan voters support efforts to make voting more convenient, supporting early voting and no reason absentee voting. Benson said she wanted to make sure that Michigan citizens enjoy the same types of access to voting that citizens enjoy neighboring states.
That’s in sharp contrast to the Republican SOS candidates. Cameron Brown and Michele McManus voted against an amendment on no reason absentee voting after Senate Democrats forced a vote in March. GOP Secretary of State candidate Ruth Johnson wants to make it more difficult for voters to cast their ballots, and she is calling on county clerks and state leaders to withdraw an early voting proposal.
As one of Michigan’s leading election law experts, Benson has worked to eliminate barriers to voting and preserve the integrity of our elections throughout the state. In 2007 she successfully led an effort to block the closing of a Secretary of State branch office in Buena Vista Township, convincing the United State Justice Department that the closure violated the Voting Rights Act. During the 2008 election, she was called to testify before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, where she called on Michigan Secretary of Secretary Terri Land to ban the use of foreclosure lists to challenge voters’ eligibility on Election Day.
After earning her B.A. at Wellesley College, she began her career at the Southern Poverty Law Center, investigating hate groups and hate crimes throughout the country. She earned an M.Phil as a Marshall Scholar at Oxford University in the United Kingdom, and subsequently earned her law degree from Harvard Law School.
Benson is currently a law professor at Wayne State University Law School, she not only teaches Election law, she has also published the first major book on the role of the Secretary of State in enforcing election and campaign finance laws. Benson's book, "State Secretaries of State: Guardians of the Democratic Process," highlights best practices of Secretaries from throughout the country and seeks to inform voters about how Secretaries of State from either side of the political spectrum can work to advance democracy and election reform.