When 50 Republican Senators and conservative Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona voted against shifting filibuster to advance the John R Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said it placed an additional burden on states to protect the right to vote.
“The fact that a component of the federal government, the US Senate, is clearly abdicating that role, that constitutional role at this critical time is disappointing to all those who believe in democracy,” said Ms. Benson. the independent in an interview last month. “That said, given where we are right now, the action or lack of action in the US Senate also underscores the reality that the path to protect and defend democracy will go through the states and not the country. federal government”.
A day before the vote, Manchin said “the government will stand behind” people when it comes to the right to vote. But Ms. Benson criticized Mr. Manchin and Ms. Sinema for their actions.
“I think it is up to everyone, leaders and citizens, to do everything possible to prioritize the defense and protection of democracy at this time,” he said. “For any elected leader to choose hyperbole and rhetoric over facts and citizens is an abdication of their role under the Constitution to protect and defend the United States.”
Similarly, he said not reauthorizing the section of the Voting Rights Act that the Supreme Court struck down that required certain jurisdictions to have government-approved changes to their voting rules would allow further disenfranchisement, particularly in his home state of Michigan. as well as Texas, Arizona and Georgia.
“So it’s a sign that the federal government will be in a weakened position to guarantee constitutional protections and the promise of one person, one vote,” he said. “They will be in a weakened position to make them a reality for all citizens of this country in light of the very clear and coordinated national effort to dismantle many of the policies that allowed so many citizens to vote in 2020.”
Now, Ms. Benson is facing re-election in 2022 against someone who spread lies and misinformation about the 2020 election that she helped administer. A recent poll last month showed that she is leading his Republican opponent Kristina Karamo for 14 points and high $412,356 compared to its competitor who grossed $133,054.
“I think one of the results of the federal government’s failure to enact voting rights protections will be an increased focus on these races,” he said. “I have already seen more focus and energy around these races than ever before. How that will play out at the polls in November remains to be seen, but clearly there will be an election in Michigan and an election in other states, or a clear choice, between the candidates on the ballot, one of whom champions democracy. and the other tries to dismantle it.”
Donald Trump’s constant lies about the 2020 election brought Ms. Benson into the public eye. In May 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic, Trump criticized her for sending ballots to all voters, instead of ballot requests, leading her to tweeting in response. In September 2020, Trump tweeted who purposely misprinted service members’ ballots. In response, Mrs. Benson, the wife of a veteran, said a computer glitch was fixed.
At the time, Trump was also aggressively attacking Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, whom he derided as “That Woman from Michigan.” On time, six men were charged with an attempted kidnapping of the governor.
In November 2020, the Trump campaign filed a lawsuit against Ms. Benson, which a Michigan judge rejected. But by December 2020, this reportedly culminated in armed protesters. demonstrating outside Mrs. Benson’s house. Benson said it’s not a coincidence that Trump’s angriest supporters targeted women.
“I think the attacks on women, not only by the former president but by many of his most ardent supporters and others, are particularly pernicious, particularly personal, and even more offensive,” she said. “I think my biggest concern is that they don’t deter women from serving at times like these because we need every voice at the table now more than ever.”
At the same time, she said as a mother, it was a testament to how much some people will try to intimidate women from doing their jobs. But the threats of Trump’s rhetoric do not just reach individuals; they are also striking at the heart of democracy. Mrs. Benson has provided information to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill. Similarly, state attorney general Dana Nessel has said that federal prosecutors should investigate “substitute voters” who created false certificates to act as voters. the select committee aforementioned the chairman and secretary of the committee from seven states, including Michigan, to provide information.
Ms. Benson echoed what Ms. Nessel said, saying it was important to see what nefarious actions the former president and his supporters took to subvert the election.
“In that sense, we have to recognize that two things are happening now,” he said. “One, the tactics and efforts to potentially nullify or thwart an election result that Trump or others may disagree with in the future, those efforts are becoming incredibly sophisticated and perhaps more strategic. So in part we have to make sure there is accountability, justice and consequences for those who tried to block the will of the people in 2020, but failed.”
Ms. Benson is currently running against Kristina Karamo, who spreading misinformation about voter fraud during the 2020 race. He has also said that Trump won Michigan. Ms. Benson said she is concerned that misinformation could continue to spread in future elections.
“I am concerned that efforts by losing candidates to refuse to accept the results and instead wreak havoc on election officials and our electoral process because they lost an election will become the norm,” he said. “If we don’t seek accountability for all or most of what happened in 2020, it could very well become the norm.”
Ms. Benson said that she hopes that is not only the right message, but that it can be a winner.
“It is up to me and all of us on the ballot this year to make sure voters know not only that democracy is the most critical issue of our time and of this election cycle, but that our citizens have a very clear opportunity to reject those choices. deniers who have tried, with lies and deceit, to dismantle democracy throughout the country,” he said. If that rejection happens, I think we will see, I hope, fewer politicians run on a platform of autocracy and partisanship over democracy, but it will be up to voters to send that message in November.
She then added that “I am proud to be a conduit through which they can also send that message in our election, but it remains to be seen whether or not voters will accept this clear responsibility and opportunity that they have this year. ”
the independent has contacted Ms. Karamo for comment.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.