Friday, April 23, 2010

Jocelyn Benson Already Having Impact

She hasn't even been officially nominated, yet alone elected, but Jocelyn Benson already is helping to make Michigan voting laws better.

Benson, who won the endorsement of the Michigan Democratic Party at a special endorsement convention on Saturday (April 17, 2010), testified in support of a measure to make it easier for voters serving in the military to vote absentee -- a measure that Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed into law on Thursday (April 22, 2010). The measure allows members of the military serving abroad to receive absentee ballots electronically, something that 32 other states already did.

In her testimony last fall before the House Committee on Ethics and Elections, Benson
noted that voting rates for members of the military serving abroad are much lower than the general population -- 22 percent compared to 40 percent. She compared the process used by New Mexico and Michigan for overseas voters, noting that New Mexico's use of electronic submission allowed its absentee overseas voters to complete the process in eight days, instead of two months in Michigan's case. States such as Minnesota that have allowed electronic submissions have seen voting sharply increase for military members serving abroad -- as much as 400 percent.

Benson noted in her testimony that "while security risks are always a concern, the bottom line is that the men and women who put themselves in harm’s way to keep our country secure deserve full and unfettered accessed to the rights and freedoms they are fighting to protect."

That is a key part of the secretary of state's job -- making sure people can exercise their right to vote -- yet the Republicans who have controlled the office for years never bothered to make this change on behalf of the troops they claim to support.

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