Jocelyn Benson

Picture of Giraffe Jocelyn Benson

Jocelyn Benson, Michigan’s Secretary of State, has been a champion of making voting safe and easy for all Michigan’s citizens, even as a counter-force builds, determined to disenfranchise voters by any and all means.

Last Christmas, when she and her four-year-old were decorating their tree, her house was besieged by a mob yelling insults and threats. Though the mob was safely dispersed, she continued to be the target of national figures accusing her of stealing votes from Trump, challenging both her integrity and her competence.

Benson has worked for decades providing support for victims of hate crimes, helps direct a national program to improve civics education, and founded a nonprofit to support integrity and transparency in her state’s elections. Her fear of being followed, or her house surrounded again hasn't stopped her frommaking sure her state’s election are free and fair.

She has pushed Michigan lawmakers to expand voting rights by mailing absentee ballot requests to all registered voters, creating a safe-harbor date for ballots postmarked by Election Day but received after polls close, allowing voters to cast their ballots early in person, and making Election Day a state holiday. However, the state legislature is controlled by Republicans, and they have fought her proposals every step of the way. Benson recognizes this fight as critical: “We are very much in the middle of a war over the future of our democracy.”

And Benson also recognizes her own responsibility in that fight: She's the author of State Secretaries of State: Guardians of the Democratic Process, which focuses on the importance of Secretaries of State in elections. She states their role—and hers—succinctly:

“When you elect these election administrators, you choose who runs your democracy.”