Advance Notice: Briefs

Benson works on national voting reforms, including big penalties for threatening election workers 

By: - February 20, 2023 6:59 am

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is sworn in for a second term during the Michigan Inauguration on Jan. 1, 2023. | Andrew Roth/Michigan Advance

Ahead of the 2024 presidential election, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has participated in a national effort to improve the election system. 

NewDEAL Forum, a Washington, D.C. nonprofit, has released a set of  recommendations for state and local leaders “to preserve and strengthen our democracy,” according to the organization.  

The Democracy Playbook contains more than 40 steps. The working group is co-chaired by Benson; Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes; Montgomery County, Pa., Commissioner Ken Lawrence; and Nevada Assembly Majority Leader Sandra Jauregui. All are Democrats. 

“We share this playbook to identify the policies and best practices that leaders across the nation can advocate for and adopt to prepare for the coming attacks, protect voters, and ensure America’s democracy expands and flourishes,” said Benson. 

The recommendations, focusing on election integrity, voting access and civic engagement, include best practices drawn from cities and states across the nation that can and should be replicated more broadly.

They include: 

  • Enacting significant penalties for threats against election workers, including elected officials and poll workers 
  • Increasing transparency by publicly testing voting machines
  • Enacting reforms to enable election officials to count ballots more quickly, such as pre-canvassing
  • Increasing access to voter registration through automatic voter registration and allowing citizens to register to vote up to and on Election Day 
  • Increasing access to voting through enabling no-excuse absentee voting and embracing a robust early voting period
  • Working with civic and business groups to foster civic engagement and build a sense of community

“Preserving our democracy requires urgent attention,” said Debbie Cox Bultan, NewDEAL Forum CEO. “The January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol following the 2020 election still casts a long shadow over our nation, and we cannot allow such an event to happen again. People of good faith who believe in freedom and democracy – no matter their political party – must stand up against malignant forces that seek to undermine our nation. This playbook will provide state and local officials with best practices to ensure our democracy stands strong.”


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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman writes about Southeast Michigan, history and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on Black life in Detroit.