DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 02: Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson speaks during a press conference at Callidac Place on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020 in Detroit, MI. With only a day remaining before the U.S. election and an unprecedented early voting turnout, President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee former Vice-President Joe Biden are campaigning in crucial swing states. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images) United States Election 2020 Michigan
DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 02: Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson speaks during a press conference at Callidac Place on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020 in Detroit, MI. With only a day remaining before the U.S. election and an unprecedented early voting turnout, President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee former Vice-President Joe Biden are campaigning in crucial swing states. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says the Michigan GOP is deceiving the public by claiming their bills improve election integrity.

LANSING, Mich.—After the largest elections Michigan has ever seen, Republicans introduced a 39 bill package that Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson called “poisonous” last Thursday. 

That poison includes measures that would prevent nonpartisan watchdogs from acting as election challengers, lock down ballot drop boxes 27 hours before the polls close, and prevent people from absentee voting unless they included a photocopy of their ID. She called the sum total of the legislation an “attack on democracy.”

“These proposals are based on the lies that sought to undermine the will of the voters in our democracy last year and they should be seen for what they are: an extension of those same lies, seeking to continue to undermine the will of Michigan citizens,” Benson told reporters. “They are deceiving the public by claiming their bills improve election integrity when they simply make it harder for all citizens to vote. So don’t believe them.”

Benson made combating, misleading, or outright false claims about election a core part of her work as Secretary of State. In the run-up to the election, Benson set the record straight on several misleading and dishonest tweets then-President Donald Trump made about her work in Michigan. After the election, though, combatting conspiracy theories and lies became a far bigger task.

Between often-mocked hearings before the Michigan legislature, the dramatic showdown over Detroit’s election results, and the flurry of lawsuits that were dismissed in early winter, Benson saw up close the throughline of conspiratorial thinking that she says led directly to the 39 bills proposed now. 

She also called on Michigan voters to take political action to defend their voting rights. She cited how Michiganders fought and voted to make their next election easier, and how so doing led to smashed voting records. 

“Just as millions of citizens embraced these policies, embraced the right to vote absentee, embraced the use of drop boxes and many other things in 2020, I hope those citizens now will contact their state legislators and know exactly what they want to see in their democracy,” she said.

Benson is joined by other elected leaders in Michigan, like state Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) who compared the proposed bills to a “resurrection of Jim Crow”.

Michigan is hardly alone in fighting this wave of attempted voter suppression as a reaction to the false narrative of widespread election fraud. By late March, the Brennan Center for Justice found that the restrictive bills in Michigan were part of more than 350 nationwide aimed at making voting harder.

Famously, Georgia’s restrictions on voter laws prompted corporate backlash that led Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) to tell businesses to stay out of politics, unless they’re giving politicians money

Business in Michigan did not take McConnell’s advice. Led by Ford and General Motors, 38 Michigan businesses signed a letter urging the Legislature to only adopt changes to voting laws that would make it easier to cast a ballot, and to avoid the restrictive policies offered in the 39-bill package from Republicans. 

While America grapples with the fallout from the 2020 election and struggles with preserving voting rights through legislation like the For the People Act, Benson is focused on protecting Michigan democracy.

This is an attack on our democracy and the American values that make our country strong,” she said.