LANSING, Mich. (FOX 2) - Emboldened by a new majority in the state legislature, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced new legislation aimed at further securing the state's election systems.
Benson, who was part of the wave of Democrats that won election during last year's midterms, spoke about plans to increase penalties for the harassment of election workers, ban deceptive practices by workers collecting signatures, and boost funding for local governments to run their voting systems.
She also wants to create a policy group that would continually review and improve Michigan's elections.
"We are in an era of misinformation with voters being lied to about their right to vote and election workers subject to a near constant barrage of threats and harassment for simply doing their jobs," Benson said in a release. "We must do more to protect the people who protect democracy."
The secretary was flanked by Democratic lawmakers during a press conference Tuesday to announce the new slate of bills. That includes the state House and Senate Chairs of the election committees: Rep. Penelope Tsernoglou (D-East Lansing) and Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield).
"This session we intend to build on the successes of our electoral system that have been administered dutifully by Secretary Benson and the dedicated election officials across Michigan. Our democracy works," Moss said.
It's the latest push in updating Michigan's election law following two previous cycles of changes.
In 2018, the state approved a measure to allow for no-reason absentee voting.
In 2022, Michigan voters approved a ballot proposal that expanded voting rights within the state. It required military ballots be counted if postmarked before election day, allow voters to vote with a signed affidavit if they don't have a government ID, and fund drop boxes for absentee ballots.
Benson endorsed both campaigns and has continued to push for more changes.
While election laws introduced by Democrats would have struggled in previous sessions of the legislature, the party's new majorities have breathed new life into those efforts. The new slate of election law changes include:
- Ban the practice of doxxing an election worker's personal information and increase the penalty for threatening or harassing workers and for pressuring election officials to act illegally
- Ban deceptive practices such as lying to voters when seeking their signatures on petitions and knowingly sharing false information about elections and citizens’ ability to vote
- Provide enough money to local government clerks to ensure their security and the security of their elections and voters