Secretary Benson submits testimony defending freedom to vote, secure drop box access
MAY 5, 2021
Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson submitted testimony to the state Senate Elections Committee today, denouncing legislation from the chamber's 39-bill voter suppression package being taken up this afternoon. Her testimony emphasized the policies and procedures that made the November 2020 election secure and successful were embraced again yesterday in local elections across the state.
"Throughout the day I saw steady streams of voters using drop boxes on Election Day and spoke with clerks and election workers still dissatisfied with the insufficient time provided under current law to preprocess absentee ballots," Benson stated. "Yet today the bills before you would ban the use of drop boxes on Election Day and continue to restrict preprocessing for our clerks."
Of the legislation being discussed in committee today, Benson's testimony noted the impact of Senate Bill 286, which would ban the use of drop boxes on Election Day, the day they are most used and needed. Similarly, Senate Bill 273 would enable county canvassers - who are selected by the political parties they represent - to entirely prohibit the use of drop boxes in their counties.
Senate Bill 334 also ignores the requests of clerks and continues to provide only 10 hours for limited absentee ballot processing, despite the fact that after the November election the state Senate Majority Leader and Speaker of the House both admitted this was insufficient.
Finally, Senate Bill 311 would unnecessarily restrict the right of electronic ballot return among military servicemembers overseas to those who have a specific and notoriously unreliable military credential, and would exclude military spouses altogether.
"As I saw across the state yesterday, in every community I visited, nearly all ballots were being cast absentee and drop boxes were in use the entire day. Voters have embraced the policies that have worked so well in our elections these last two years," said Benson. "This committee risks doing tremendous harm to voters' faith in our elections and the strength of our democracy by undoing or decreasing access to those policies."
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