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We have an obligation to modernize our laws in order to provide
secure voting options for military members stationed overseas.
Making sure they can effectively transmit their votes, and we can
accurately count them, should be a top priority. I’m proud to
support legislation that will do that.
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson
Military spouse voting
Secretary Benson testified before the House Elections and Ethics Committee in support of legislation that would provide a modern and secure option for voters stationed overseas to have their ballots electronically returned and counted.
She knows how important this is. When her husband was stationed overseas, the ballot he mailed in was never counted, and instead was returned to him days after the election had finished.
The Michigan legislation, however, fails to recognize that military spouses and of-age dependents deserve the same right to return their ballots electronically so their votes are counted. During her testimony, Secretary Benson spoke at length about the issues stemming from this exclusion and called for an amendment to the bill to enable the electronic return of ballots for military spouses serving on overseas orders as well.
The bill, Senate Bill 117, unfortunately passed unaltered at that committee hearing but legislators still have the chance to correct this oversight and properly recognize the service, sacrifice and unique role spouses play as part of the military community.
Online voter registration
In December 2019, Secretary Benson announced the availability of online voter registration as an option for Michigan residents at Michigan.gov/VoterRegistration.
The secure, web-based online voter registration tool is available to citizens with a valid Michigan driver's license or state ID card. Online voter registration is available on any web-connected device, including tablets and smart phones. Additional features will be added in 2020.
Serving and protecting the military community
In May 2019, Secretary Benson announced plans to improve voting rights for members of the military and their families and new efforts to recognize the service of veterans across Michigan.
Standing in a hangar at the Army Aviation Support Facility in Grand Ledge, with military officials, veterans, state legislators and other guests in attendance, Benson said her plans (see document) would require legislative collaboration as well as action through initiatives by the Department of State.
Among her proposals, Benson wants to allow military members and their spouses overseas to return their ballots electronically, to improve ballot tracking tools for military and overseas voters, to eliminate the charge for military license plates and develop new license plates for families of service members and for women veterans. Veterans also would be recognized in secretary of state branch offices, and Michigan would give residents the opportunity to honor a veteran with their vote, as several other states do.
Tour of Selfridge ANG Base as one of first official acts
Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson visited Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township on Thursday, Jan. 3, as one of her first official acts in office, underscoring her plans to provide better service to our nation’s military.
“I was honored to spend the morning of my second day in office visiting our service members at Selfridge,” Benson said. “Our conversations with military officials and personnel are very helpful as we plan to improve our systems to better serve them.”
In her inaugural address on New Year’s Day, Benson said she stands ready to help ensure government works “to serve and protect our military service members, families and veterans just as they have worked to serve and protect all of us.”