Michigan Sec. of State Fires Back at Trump Attacking Her State’s Mail-In Voting Campaign: ‘I’m Dumbfounded This Is Controversial’
The Michigan Secretary of State, attacked online by President Donald Trump on Wednesday, pushed back on his false claim that she had broken the law by mailing absentee ballot applications to all of her state’s citizens.
Jocelyn Benson, appearing on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes, expounded on her Twitter rebuttals of Trump’s lies and explained that she was, in fact, following through on her state’s constitution, which guarantees every citizen the right to vote by mail.
Trump, Hayes explained, began his attack on Michigan by inaccurately claiming that Benson, who he did not bother to name, had “illegally” mailed absentee ballots to the state’s 7.7 million registered voters and then threatened to somehow withhold federal funds from the state.
Benson shot back, calling out Trump’s failure to name her as well as his falsehoods, which prompted him to delete his tweet.
Hi! 👋🏼 I also have a name, it’s Jocelyn Benson. And we sent applications, not ballots. Just like my GOP colleagues in Iowa, Georgia, Nebraska and West Virginia. https://t.co/kBsu4nHvOy
— Jocelyn Benson (@JocelynBenson) May 20, 2020
After Trump partially corrected his previous tweet, noting the state had mailed out absentee ballot applications, he still falsely claimed the mail-in voting campaign broke the law and that Benson undertook it on her own.
Michigan sends absentee ballot applications to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election. This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2020
Nope, Benson again responded, referencing her state’s constitution and the fact that Republican secretaries of state were also engaging in broad efforts to minimize in-person voting in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Hi again. Still wrong. Every Michigan registered voter has a right to vote by mail. I have the authority & responsibility to make sure that they know how to exercise this right – just like my GOP colleagues are doing in GA, IA, NE and WV. Also, again, my name is Jocelyn Benson. https://t.co/deZJwbMlT0
— Jocelyn Benson (@JocelynBenson) May 20, 2020
“In November of 2018 citizens voted overwhelmingly to give themselves the right to vote by mail supported by citizens on both sides of the political spectrum and something citizens on both sides of the political spectrum have done,” Benson noted. “With the national spotlight on our sate and the pandemic happening in this uncertain time we’re living in, we felt and I feel it’s important know more than ever to give our voters the certainty, the clarity in knowing exactly how to vote in this year’s elections without leaving their home safely and securely and the clarity that comes with getting an application in the mail to request your ballot be sent to you to exercise this right.”
“So one thing that I find really bizarre,” Hayes followed up. “As far as I can tell, there is no partisan valence to absentee voting. My understanding of the research is that there is just a lot of people that want to do it, particularly senior citizens in the midst of a pandemic. I don’t get it with political play.”
“I agree. I’m dumbfounded this is controversial because there are Democratic and Republican secretaries of state doing what we’re doing here in Michigan,” Benson noted. “But to me, it’s also a reflection of what will be happening in our state in the months ahead, which is an effort to misinform and confuse voters about their rights in this state. We see it happening nationally. We seen it happening in various different forms and we anticipate this is going to escalate in the months ahead so my responsibility is also to try to cut through that misinformation that chaos, that confusion and just clearly state to all voters, regardless who you are voting for, this is your choice and how you can vote and give them again the certainty that you have the right to vote, it will be protected and I’ll fight for everyone regardless of how they are voting to ensure their voices are heard.”
Addressing Trump’s baseless claim that voter fraud is ripe for fraud, Hayes asked: “Are you confident that you have the systems in place to administer free and fair elections no matter how many people choose to vote in person or absentee?”
“Absolutely,” Benson affirmed. “People have been voting by mail including the president for decades in this country in various states so we’ve got the tools in place not just to ensure every citizen can vote by mail but to ensure that when they do so, it’s secure. Every signature, every citizen, every voter who is voting by mail is required to sign the envelope in which their ballot is returned and that signature is then matched with their voter registration to confirm they are who they are. The security measures are in place. It’s quite hard to forge or fake someone’s signature and very easy to confirm or discard a ballot that has a mismatched signature and we’re also benefitting from the pact this has been going on for decades where infinitesimal fraud has occurred and when it occurs because of the security checks, it’s found and prosecuted.”
Watch the video above, via MSNBC.
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]