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Benson asks state Legislature for $100 million for election administration

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Russ McNamara
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Election security is among the priorities heading into the upcoming election cycle, according to Michigan’s Secretary of State.

Amid conspiracy theories and unfounded accusations of fraud following the 2020 presidential election, county and city clerks have been the target of threats.

Speaking at a news conference in Detroit Tuesday, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says the threats have had a chilling effect for election administrators.

“Many officials and volunteers who collectively have decades of experience are leaving their positions unwilling to take further abuse for simply doing their jobs and making election secure,” Benson said.

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Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said that absentee ballot applications will not be mailed to everyone for the primary and general elections this year.

Benson said she’s going to push for new felonies for threats and attacks directed at election workers.

Benson is lobbying the Legislature to provide $100 million for the administration of local elections. The money would be used to upgrade election equipment and for training election workers and poll watchers.

“It’s time for the state Legislature to put its money where its mouth is and provide consistent and sufficient funding to ensure our elections are safe and secure,” Benson said Tuesday at a news conference in Detroit. “For too long, our state Legislature has relied on local governments and federal agencies to keep our elections secure, accessible and funded, oftentimes resulting in unpredictable and insufficient funds.”

Benson also said that she will not be mailing out absentee ballot applications to everyone for the primary and general elections this year.

State Republicans pushed back hard on Benson’s mailing of the applications, taking the issue to court where the challenge was denied by the Michigan Court of Appeals. Also, absentee ballots were a source of baseless conspiracy theories pushed by the far right.

“We’ve seen a significant number of voters know how to access their absentee ballot, how to request it, where to go,” Benson said. “And I have faith that a lot of our local election administrators will be continuing to communicate with voters about how to request their absentee ballots.”

Russ McNamara is a reporter and host of All Things Considered for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news to the station’s loyal listeners. McNamara has been working in radio since he was 17 - and in news since 2012. He also worked as play-by-play announcer for Wayne State University basketball for seven years. Born in the Upper Peninsula, McNamara is a lifelong Michigander. He is a 2002 graduate of Central Michigan University’s Broadcast and Cinematic Arts Program.