In a press release today, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced all Michigan voters will get absentee ballot applications at home.
Per Detroit Free Press, Benson, in a move likely to anger some Republicans and potentially lead to a court battle, said the threat posed by the spread of coronavirus, which has already killed 4,915 Michiganders since March but has been on the decline in recent weeks, is still too great to consider having people go en masse to the polls to vote in the Aug. 4 and Nov. 3 elections. Benson is a Democrat.
Benson tweeted Tuesday “No voter should have to choose between their health & their vote. And every Michigan citizen has a right under our state constitution to vote by mail. With funding from the federal CARES act, I am ensuring every registered voter has the tools to conveniently exercise that right”
No voter should have to choose between their health & their vote. And every Michigan citizen has a right under our state constitution to vote by mail. With funding from the federal CARES act, I am ensuring every registered voter has the tools to conveniently exercise that right. https://t.co/p8WuUbwrpy
— Jocelyn Benson (@JocelynBenson) May 19, 2020
Last week, Benson praised actress and activist Alyssa Milano for her push for voting by mail.
Alyssa Milano shared an Op-Ed she wrote for CNN and wrote “US can make voting safer during the pandemic. Don’t let Republicans stop it.”
In her Op-Ed Milano wrote “Vote-by-mail is safe, time-tested, and secure — and doesn’t benefit one party or another, no matter what Trump says.”
Not long after Milano’s tweet, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson replied “Yes. Well said @Alyssa_Milano: “In uncertain times, when kids don’t know when they’ll be back in school, parents struggle to balance working & distance learning, & everyone is worried about protecting their health, voting should be easy. We have the tools & experience to do it.””
Editor’s note: It appears Jocelyn Benson has now deleted this tweet.
Per her official website, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced today that all registered voters in Michigan will receive an application to vote by mail in the August and November elections.
“By mailing applications, we have ensured that no Michigander has to choose between their health and their right to vote,” said Benson. “Voting by mail is easy, convenient, safe, and secure, and every voter in Michigan has the right to do it.”
Of the 7.7 million registered voters in the state, about 1.3 million are on the permanent absent voter list, and their local election clerk mails them applications ahead of every election. Additionally, some jurisdictions are mailing applications to all local registered voters. The Michigan Department of State’s Bureau of Elections has ensured all remaining registered voters receive an application.
“We appreciate that some clerks are proactively protecting public health by mailing applications to all their registered voters, and we are fulfilling our responsibility to provide all voters equal access,” said Benson. “We know from the elections that took place this month that during the pandemic Michiganders want to safely vote.”
Record-breaking turnout was recorded in the approximately 50 elections held across 33 counties on May 5, with nearly 25 percent of eligible voters casting ballots and 99 percent of them doing so by mail or in a drop box. From 2010 to 2019, average turnout in local elections in May was 12 percent.
The application mailing from the Bureau of Elections includes a cover letter with instructions from Secretary Benson. Once a voter signs their application, they can mail it or email a photo of it to their local clerk, whose contact information is included on the application. The application is also available for download at Michigan.gov/Vote. At the same website, voters can also register and join the permanent absent voter list so they always have the option to vote by mail.
“The vast majority of voters across the political spectrum want the option to vote by mail,” said Benson. “Mailing applications to all registered voters is one of the ways that we are ensuring Michigan’s elections will continue to be safe, accurate and secure.”