LANSING, Mich. — Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson held a press conference Thursday alongside other Democratic allies to voice her opposition to a package of 39 bills currently in the state legislature that would alter the way the state holds election.
If passed, the bills would add requirements for securing an absentee ballot through the mail, change when and where early voting can take place and ban local clerks from sending out prepaid absentee ballot applications unsolicited.
“Here we are witnessing state legislators acting as if their anti-American effort to take away citizens' freedom to vote is somehow the right thing to do, following an election cycle that saw unprecedented levels of voter engagement and participation,” she began Thursday.
Republican State Sen. Ruth Johnson has previously called the bills "common sense measures that will protect the integrity of our elections." A sentiment that Benson vocally disagrees with.
“Here, voters would have to make and mail a paper photocopy of their driver's license, limiting the right to vote by mail to only those who can pay to access a copy machine,” she said in regards to the bill that would add requirements to having an absentee ballot sent to your home.
“Another bill would prohibit any clerk from prepaying the postage on ballot return envelopes, while yet another would empower partisan officials on a local level to effectively ban drop boxes in any county.”
Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey also spoke Thursday, saying the measures would disproportionately affect low-income voters.
“By banning the prepaid return postage on absentee ballot envelope, this legislation discriminates against low-income citizens, and prohibits a practice that I implemented some 15 years ago, which has continued without an issue,” Winfrey said.
While Benson spent most of Thursday's press conference calling out GOP lawmakers, she had a message for voters across the state.
“Just as millions of citizens embrace these policies, embrace the right to vote absentee, embrace the use of drop boxes, and many other things in 2020. I hope those citizens now will contact their state legislators and know exactly what they want to see in their democracy.”