Mich. SOS asks for federal money to help educate about mail-in voting rights amid pandemic

As we continue life through a pandemic, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has found herself in a fight with President Trump over mail-in voting. She says communities of color need to know that their voting rights are being protected.

President Trump argues voting by mail will produce fraudulent votes, but Benson counters he is wrong.

It was against that backdrop that Benson told a Congressional committee Wednesday that more money is needed to educate voters about their voting rights so that they are not scared into not voting in November. She called for facts over fears. 

"It takes all of us fighting back against efforts to deceive particularly communities of color, but all voters, about their rights and their access to the vote this year now more than ever," Benson said. 

But echoing the remarks of the president, state Republican party chair Laura Cox argues it's illegal for Benson to send applications for mail-in absentee ballots to seven million voters. Cox contends she can do that, but the secretary can't. 

"We did it. No surprise. We followed the law and the Secretary of State should follow the law too. I can do it; she can't," Cox said. 

But Benson argues she can, citing provisions in the state constitution that give her the right to send out the applications.

"All of that combines to give me not just the authority but frankly the responsibility to ensure every citizen throughout the state of Michigan, every registered voter, has equal access to information about how to exercise their right to vote during this pandemic," Benson said. 

Congress has already sent $11 million to Michigan to beef up its election system in the wake of this virus.

"This need is particularly acute in cities in Michigan like Flint and Detroit and historically disenfranchised communities throughout our country where voters' confidence and trust in their government is an additional challenge to overcome," Benson said.

The president has threatened to cut off funds because Benson sent out those applications.