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Secretary Benson announces work to ban guns at polling places, create Michigan Voting Rights Act
February 16, 2023
DETROIT, Mich. -- At this week’s annual Judge Damon Keith Memorial Soul Food Luncheon, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced she is working with state lawmakers to ban firearms at polling places and enact a Voting Rights Act for the state of Michigan.
“The time for only thoughts and prayers is over,” said Benson, noting that many states, including Georgia, already ban firearms in polling places. “The time for taking action to ensure Michiganders are safe – in schools, in grocery stores, in places where we vote and everywhere in between – is now.”
“Our kids deserve to go to school free from fear of gun violence. They deserve to go to church or synagogues or mosques with their families to worship free from fear of gun violence. They deserve to live in a democracy where their voices are heard and where they can cast their ballots free from intimidation or threats of violence. That is the world I am fighting for," Benson said.
Benson announced the provision as part of a Michigan Voting Rights Act that she is working with lawmakers to pass this year. It would ban firearms within 100 feet of polling places and other election venues.
The Michigan Voting Rights Act will mirror and expand upon existing state constitutional protections that Michigan voters enacted in 2022 to protect and expand the voting rights of citizens throughout the state. The Act also proposes to:
- Prohibit voter suppression in the state of Michigan;
- Expand the number of jurisdictions that must translate election-related information into languages other than English;
- Enhance and clarify protections for voters with disabilities or others who need assistance to participate in elections;
- Prohibit intimidation, coercion, and deceptive practices in elections.
Benson will be drafting the Act with the input of clerks, voting advocates and other stakeholders and is working directly with state representatives and senators who serve on their respective chamber’s elections committee, including Sen. Jeremy Moss, chair of the Senate Elections and Ethics Committee; Sen. Darrin Camilleri; Sen. Stephanie Chang; and Sen. Sylvia Santana, as well as Rep. Penelope Tsernoglou, chair of the House Elections Committee.
“When we remove barriers to participation, we create fairer elections, said Sen. Camilleri (D-Trenton). “I’m honored to lead the effort in the Legislature to create a Michigan Voting Rights Act and make sure voters of color and those with disabilities can make their voices heard in our elections. While federal law has lapsed in protecting all of our residents' right to vote, we are going to use our power at the state level to defend our residents and our democracy."
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