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Benson Outlines Plans To Implement Redistricting Panel, Voting Changes

February 20, 2019

Secretary of State (SOS) Jocelyn Benson said Tuesday she’d be forming an office within the SOS to implement the independent redistricting commission, the voter-approved panel that will redraw the 2021 legislative and congressional boundaries.

She also wants to create a commission to advise on changes to voting and registration.

Benson spoke Tuesday about how her office would carry out the implementation of the voter-approved Proposals 2 and 3, both of which involve the SOS in some manner. She spoke at a conference hosted by the Michigan Society of Association Executives (MSAE).

Prop 2 created an independent commission charged with redrawing legislative lines, and gave the SOS administrative functions related to the commission. And Prop 3 enshrined a number of voting initiatives in the state constitution, including no-reason absentee voting and straight ticket voting.

To help implement Prop 3, Benson said she’d be forming within the next few weeks an “election modernization committee” to advise the SOS on changes related to Prop 3. Benson also said her office would be creating an “online voter registration portal.”

On Prop 2 implementation, Benson said she’d be moving to set up an “office of independent redistricting” and hiring a director for the office in the near future.

Benson said the SOS would tour around the state this year to get the word out to people to encourage them to apply to the commission. This fall, Benson said another online portal would launch for those who want to apply for the commission.

And in 2020, Benson said that in addition to going through the selection process for the commission, the SOS also would work at “ensuring that commissioners are fully trained to take on their job.”

Benson said her office would be championing efforts to require publicly available financial disclosures for elected officials and expanding Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to cover the Governor’s office and the Legislature.

Benson said she was spending her first 100 days visiting all 131 SOS branch offices in the state. She also mentioned her move to have Michigan join a partnership of states using encrypted voter information to red flag deceased voters, duplicate voter registrations, voters who move and eligible voters not yet registered.

She gave props to “an incredibly energetic executive team” led by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and her cabinet, adding they’re all “committed to just doing the job we’ve been elected to do. None of us are thinking about anything else other than that.”

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