Benson testifies in favor of legislation to protect Michigan's

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson testified Tuesday before the House Elections Committee in support of two bills to strengthen penalties for threats against election workers across the state. Benson told the panel that HB 4129 and HB 4130, sponsored by Rep. Kara Hope (D-Holt), are essential to keeping Michigan’s elections safe and U.S. democracy secure.

“Election officials are professional, nonpartisan, and deeply committed to the responsibility to carry out free and fair elections,” Benson said. “But in 2020 and in the years since, these guardians of democracy have been threatened and harassed simply for doing their jobs. It is unsustainable and unacceptable.”

Benson cited an April 2023 national survey by the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice reporting that nearly three quarters of local election officials say that threats against election workers have increased in recent years. One in three surveyed said they have experienced threats, harassment, or abuse, with more than half reporting being threatened in person. The survey found that 47% of election workers said state government needs to do more to support them in their jobs.

“Today is the perfect time for this Legislature to take a stand and assure our clerks that we’ve got their backs,” said Benson. “We cannot allow anyone to attempt to interfere with an election by threatening or intimidating our election officials. These bills before the committee today will ensure accountability for anyone who harasses an election clerk to the point where that clerk fears for their personal safety. And these bills send a message to anyone who would attack or threaten the guardians of our democracy here in Michigan – this stops now.

“Since 2019, I have had the great pleasure of working side by side with clerks across the state, Benson said. “Regardless of their political party or personal beliefs, they are committed to defend and protect every Michigan voter, their voice, and their vote. That commitment has never wavered, and it will not waver now. I am urging you to share that commitment, stand with our local election officials, and pass these needed protections now.”