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Secretary Benson joins local election clerks in meetings with White House, congressional leaders to seek federal funding for elections
December 09, 2021
In a series of meetings this week Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson joined with local election officials from across the country to ask the White House and congressional leaders to allocate a sustained source of federal funding for election infrastructure. In the request Secretary Benson and others asked for an investment of $5 billion for election infrastructure for Fiscal Year 2023, and a total of $20 billion in federal funding over 10 years, to be allocated to states and also directly to local election jurisdictions.
"Our local election clerks need support now more than ever as they face threats to their lives, attacks on their integrity, and insufficient funds to carry out fair and equal elections," said Benson. "Our state and federal leaders must do more to ensure clerks in Michigan and across the country have the protection and funding they need to ensure our democracy persists."
Benson joined with local election clerks to discuss the urgent need for the funding, in meetings with White House personnel as well as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, House Administration Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren, and Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney.
In emphasizing the importance of including local election clerks in conversations about election funding, Benson noted, "it is critical that lawmakers hear directly from those election officials serving on the front lines of administering our elections. I am working to with Michigan's local clerks in planning meetings with state lawmakers here in Michigan as well, including House Speaker Jason Wentworth and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, to similarly advocate for the critical importance of state funding for election infrastructure."
While Benson serves as Michigan's Chief Elections Officer, the state's elections are administered by 1,520 city and township clerks in coordination with 83 county clerks. As misinformation about the November 2020 election proliferated, threats against clerks in Michigan and across the country increased, as did attempts by state legislatures to cut their resources.
In Michigan, where the state legislature has not funded local elections for many years, legislation has been proposed that would bar clerks from accepting support from third parties, including in-kind donations such as the use of schools and churches as polling places, which many clerks rely on every election.
"I speak regularly with Republican, Democrat and nonpartisan election clerks about the challenges they are facing and the support they need," said Benson. "It is critical that state and federal lawmakers hear directly from them about their experiences, and I look forward to continuing to join with local election clerks to urge our state legislators and federal lawmakers to fund our democracy."
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