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Benson and Nessel update legislators on work to protect elections and restore driver's licenses

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel today updated lawmakers on the state Senate Elections and Ethics Committee on the strength of Michigan elections and identified legislation that would build on their success.
The visit was the third in two days for Benson and Nessel, who on Tuesday made a similar presentation to the state House Elections Committee and then updated the House Transportation, Mobility and Infrastructure Committee on an initiative to restore driver’s licenses to residents statewide.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to share with Michigan lawmakers the work we are doing to protect elections, election workers and voters and to meet residents where they are and help them restore their driver’s licenses,” said Benson. “By working together and making data-driven, nonpartisan decisions, we can continue making government work for all the people of Michigan.”
“I am grateful to the legislature for welcoming Secretary Benson and myself to speak about our shared work on behalf of Michigan residents,” said Nessel. “The 2022 election in Michigan went so well that it should serve as a model for other states, however, our current election laws are not sufficient to meet the gravity of the moment and the newly imagined ways our elections can be undermined. We need better, more significant laws directed at campaign finance reform, increasing transparency, and safeguarding the sanctity of our elections by protecting voters and election workers from harassment, threats, and intimidation. The continued success of our democracy relies on it.”
Benson spoke about the new voting rights that voters enshrined in the state Constitution when they passed Proposal 2022-2, including:

  • Nine days of early voting
  • Absentee ballot drop boxes in all jurisdictions
  • The ability to receive an absentee ballot by mail after submitting a single application
  • Prepaid postage and tracking on all absentee ballots and applications

Benson also identified legislation that could support these voter-approved amendments, including enabling the pre-registration of citizens of driving age so they are automatically registered to vote when they turn 18, and allowing absentee ballots to be tabulated during the nine days of early voting. Tabulation reports would not be run and released until after polls close on election night.
Benson and Nessel also spoke of the importance of passing laws that explicitly ban and penalize threats, harassment and doxxing of election workers, and intentionally sharing false information about citizens’ voting rights and elections.
“We must do more to protect the people who make democracy work – from the officials who run our elections to the citizens who vote in them,” said Benson. “I am confident our legislative leaders will join the Attorney General and me in doing all we can to ensure no one is harassed or intimidated from doing the work of democracy.”

On Tuesday, Benson updated the House Transportation, Mobility and Infrastructure Committee about the success and efficiency of Secretary of State office operations and the department’s Road to Restoration clinics that assist residents seeking to restore their driving privileges.
In a partnership with the Department of the Attorney General and several additional organizations including DTE Energy and the DTE Foundation, Miller Canfield law firm (Detroit office), Detroit Justice Center, and United Way of Michigan/211, the clinics provide free legal assistance to people who had violations on their driving records cancelled by laws that went into effect in 2021. The 18 clinics across the state served more than 4,000 Michiganders, and another dozen clinics are being planned for 2023.
“Through the driver’s license restoration initiative, we have helped thousands of people start anew and have the opportunity to enjoy better employment, better benefits, and better lives,” said Nessel.  “I want to recognize and thank Secretary Benson for welcoming our department into this work that is transformational for so many and look forward to continuing our work together and with the legislature.”
Here is a link to Secretary Benson’s presentation to the Senate Elections and Ethics Committee.
Here is a link to Secretary Benson's presentation to the House Transportation, Mobility and Infrastructure Committee

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