Secretary Benson declines state House Oversight Committee invitation


FILE – In this March 5, 2020, file photo, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson speaks at a news conference in Lansing, Mich. Michigan’s top election official said Tuesday, May, 19, 2020, that absentee ballot applications will be mailed to all 7.7 million registered voters for the August primary and November general election. Benson said the step — announced as the state continues to confront the coronavirus pandemic — ensures no one “has to to choose between their health and their right to vote.” (AP Photo/David Eggert, File)

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)– It’s a “no” from Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, in response to a request for her to testify before the House Oversight committee about Michigan’s elections.

In a letter to state House Oversight Committee Chairman Matt Hall sent on Tuesday, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson declined an invitation to participate in hearings on the 2020 general election out of concern that they are “amplifying already debunked conspiracy theories and previously disproven claims of people who lack basic knowledge of election administration, and in doing so undermining the integrity of the election and wounding our democracy.”

 House Oversight Chair Matt Hall, of Marshall issued the following statement in response to that letter:

Secretary of State Benson said she would be willing to testify before the people’s representatives when it made a good talking point for her and got her good press. But when the rubber met the road and it came time to answer questions about her work, she refused to take questions. Benson’s flip-flop makes it clear she would rather hide under a rock than help the people of Michigan build trust in their state’s election process going forward.

“Legislators are hearing those concerns, and we are taking action to address them. But this needs to be a collaborative effort to deliver trust. The House and Senate Oversight Committees have previously heard testimony from multiple county clerks from both parties on what they saw and what can be done to better Michigan’s election system in the future – and those conversations and ideas were extremely constructive and helpful.

“Our committee would like to have similar discussions with Secretary of State Benson, and I am disappointed she is brushing aside that opportunity while making excuses and playing cheap political games.

“This is about people, not politics. The electoral votes for Michigan have been submitted. But people in Michigan still have questions about their state’s elections and those questions deserve answers. I fear we are headed for more distrust in the future if people are denied clarity and transparency from officials who head up the process.”

House Oversight Chair Matt Hall, Marshall

Benson noted that Attorney General William Barr, the FBI, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and countless local election clerks on both sides of the aisle, as well as judges and justices appointed by Republicans and Democrats, have found the election was secure and the results are accurate.

Benson said she looks forward to opportunities to speak with state lawmakers about reforms and improvements for future elections. “Particularly beneficial legislation that already has bipartisan support would provide election clerks more time to process absentee ballots before Election Day, and give military members and their spouses overseas the opportunity to securely return their ballots electronically,” Benson wrote.

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