REPORT ON MEETING WITH SEC. OF STATE, JOCELYN BENSON
The Secretary announced that she is on a tour to visit every Sec. of State office in Michigan. She feels that we are in great place in Michigan right now. We have a great Governor, a great Attorney General, and new bold leadership at the top. She thanked everyone who worked so hard here on the ground, the volunteers for Voters Not Politicians door knocking campaign, the volunteers getting petitions signed that ultimately got Propositions 2 and 3 on the ballot and passed.
Regarding the changes in voting rights, we can now register to vote up to and on election day. Everyone can vote absentee ballot without a reason. Elections now have the right to be audited to insure elections are secure and the process transparent.
In the Fall of 2020, the selection of candidates for the Citizens Redistricting Commission to redraw district lines will begin. The Secretary urged as many people as possible from this area to apply to ensure that we are well represented on the commission. We need to ask ourselves, what do want our district to look like? Start drawing out hypothetical district lines as examples. We need everyone to engage in this process and take it seriously.
Benson said the same algorithms can be used to draw the lines as before, but the method is not enough. We need anecdotal information and examples from us here on the ground who know first hand what our district should look like.
Regarding the possibility of the districts as drawn now being able to be redrawn before the 2020 election, the Secretary said there is a lawsuit pending now at the Michigan Supreme Court level so we will have to wait to see how that turns out. At the federal level, we need to have equal number of voters in each district. Districts cannot be drawn to corral voters of color into one district. Districts must be cohesive, that is, they have to touch each other. Districts have to take into consideration municipalities and county lines. Particular counties cannot be favored over other counties. Candidates cannot draw lines to get themselves elected as has been done in the past.
Regarding a question about the Electoral College, the Secretary said that as of now each state decides how their votes are determined. The National Popular Vote Plan insures that whoever gets the most votes, gets to be President. She does not oppose doing away with the Electoral College in principle, but she sees some problems in how a close election recount would be conducted. Right now the whole nation’s votes would need to be recounted. A process would need to be put in place so that that didn’t have to happen.
The formation of a Citizens Redistricting Commission will begin by selecting 200 names from all the applications to serve on the commission. Much like in jury selection, some will be disqualified. Out of all of the remaining, 13 will be randomly selected to serve. She has no say whatsoever as to how that selection is done. It is random.
The Secretary reported that so far she has visited 99 local Secretary of State offices. A lot of band-aids have been pasted over problems by individual offices. She is in the process of removing those band-aids and streamlining service. She wants to create a culture of customer service where lengthy wait lines are eliminated. She will issue a series of recommendations such as a five year license plate. She wants to cut down the red tape. Perhaps making service through Skype would be an option, as well as adding more staff to understaffed offices. She did not anticipate vehicle licensing fees going up to accomplish her reforms.
The Secretary closed out her comments by once again thanking everyone for their hard work and dedication to ensuring that Michigan has fair and equal voter protections under the law.
Get together at Ruby Tuesday with Dems from 4 area counties.
Chris Cracchiolo, Chairman GT Dems and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson