Michigan SOS Benson pushes to ban guns at polling places, create Voting Rights Act

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is working to ban guns at polling places.

"The time for only thoughts and prayers is over," Benson said. "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." 

The SOS noted that many states, including Georgia, already ban firearms within 100 feet of polling places.

"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. 

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Benson also wants to create the Voting Rights Act. 

In addition to the polling place gun ban, the act would prohibit voter suppression; 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, and prohibit intimidation, coercion, and deceptive practices in elections.

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Benson said she would be getting the input of clerks, voting advocates and other stakeholders, along 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."