Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson speaks in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya File) Jocelyn Benson
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson speaks in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya File)

“I share this award with every Michigander who is working to protect and defend our democracy in the face of a barrage of lies, hateful rhetoric, and threats,” Michigan SOS Jocelyn Benson said.


Need to Know

  • The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library Foundation will award Michigan SOS Jocelyn Benson the Profile in Courage Award.
  • As the state’s chief elections officer, Benson protected and defended the integrity of Michigan’s elections, in accordance with state law.
  • Benson was one of five political figures who “put their careers on the line to defend democracy,” including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and U.S. Representative Liz Cheney.

MICHIGAN—Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson will be awarded the 2022 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award, given annually for defending democracy at home and abroad.

The recipients were announced Thursday by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library Foundation. In May, the nonprofit organization will present the awards to Benson and four other honorees: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, U.S. Representative Liz Cheney, Fulton County Elections Department employee Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, and Arizona House Speaker Russel “Rusty” Bowers. 

“Throughout the 2020 election cycle, Benson repeatedly refused to back down from fulfilling the duties of her office, even as threats and harassment from then-President Trump and his allies grew increasingly aggressive,” the Foundation said in a statement.

“I am deeply moved and grateful for this recognition of our work in Michigan to ensure every voice is heard, every vote is counted, and our democracy prevails against the unprecedented attempts to interfere with our elections and upend the will of the people,” Benson said. 

Shortly after the 2020 presidential election, armed protesters showed up at Benson’s home and demanded that she overturn the election results. Benson was putting up Christmas decorations with her young son inside as the protesters called Benson a “traitor” and a “criminal” for defending the certification of Michigan’s results, which favored Joe Biden.

Caroline Kennedy, daughter of former president John F. Kennedy and honorary president of the foundation, said the fight for democracy is the most important issue faced today by the U.S. and the world.

“This year’s honorees put their careers and lives on the line to stand up for democratic principles and the integrity of our elections,” Kennedy said. ‘Their service and courage inspire us all.”

As the state’s chief elections officer, Benson maintained and defended the integrity of Michigan’s vote in accordance with state law. She continues to speak out about the risks to free and fair elections in Michigan and nationwide, as Trump supporters attempt to perpetuate false claims of election fraud and GOP leaders in Michigan work to restrict voting access for local and state elections.

“I share this award with every Michigander who is working to protect and defend our democracy in the face of a barrage of lies, hateful rhetoric, and threats, and I hope this emboldens all of us to continue doing that work, even as the challenges intensify in the months and years ahead.”