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An Obvious Choice for Secretary of State

An Obvious Choice for Secretary of State


Since the departure of Richard Austin, who held the office for 24 years, Michigan has had Republican females in the office of Secretary of State, 16 years. Mr. Austin was a Democrat, well educated as a CPA and the first African American to hold the office. Mr. Austin pushed hard to register every eligible voter in Michigan and enact voter reforms.

Candace Miller, who followed Mr. Austin basically, continued programs Mr. Austin had already started. She did come up with one very novel idea, the theme offices. She went on to become a Legislator in Washington D.C.

Terry Lynn Land has been consolidating the offices since her election. We now have fewer offices but larger ones. And the internet services have been expanded. She had ambitions of becoming the Lieutenant Governor.

The problem with both of these Secretaries is that they neglected the inner cities during their tenure, especially Detroit. If you visit a suburban office, you see many clerks and fewer customers. Detroit residents, however, are often forced to wait extended lengths of time for service from one or two clerks and less equipment. The deciders who staff the offices do not consider talking to residents about problems as measurable work. Oftentimes, less affluent Detroit residents are not as prepared as their suburban counterparts, and require more personal assistance. This is a fact ignored by the Republican Secretaries of State for the past 16 years.

Candace Miller made sure her area was well staffed in Harrison Township and Terry Lynn Land made sure the Grand Rapids area was well taken care of. Since Austin’s departure, however, Detroit has been treated like a step child. Land even closed the Downtown Detroit office. Both of these ladies used the office as a stepping stone to other offices.

This year we have a chance to elect a truly remarkable candidate in Democratic candidate Jocelyn Benson. Her opponent, Ruth Johnson is more mature, and like Terry Lynn Land is a county clerk. She has affiliations with the TEA party. She openly sought their support with fervor. Compared to Benson, she is mediocre.

Jocelyn Benson, a young 32 year old Wayne State professor, is a superior candidate for the office of Secretary of State. She easily outshines her opponent, Ruth Johnson, as well at the previous two Secretaries. Benson approached her candidacy by writing a book about the best practices of Secretaries of State. She interviewed 30 Secretaries of State throughout the country to learn best practices. She is a well educated, holding degrees from Wellesley, Oxford and Harvard.

Currently, Michigan is in the minority of states which curtail voters by not allowing voting the weekend before the election or same day registration, and which is also restrictive with absentee ballots. Republican secretaries have traditionally made voting more difficult by not allowing same day registration. They have been extremely slow at enacting voter reforms. Currently much of the country is starting early voting, but not Michigan.

There is also a rumor spreading that if your home is in foreclosure, you are not eligible to vote. This is not true. It is underhanded attempt to suppress voter participation.

Benson offers thoughtful reforms for the voting process. One such reform is absentee ballots for no reason and automatic voter registration for citizens who are eligible for a Drivers License. She would also support same day voter registration with strict identification requirements.

Since Benson resides and works in Downtown Detroit, perhaps she may recognize the need for a branch office in the downtown area of the largest city in the state. She also promises to address the disclosure problems in the election process.

Michigan needs a Secretary like Ms. Benson. The citizens deserve better service than what they have been getting for the last 16 years. Ms. Benson is endorsed by the Detroit Free Press.


1. Sources: Detroit Free Press, Sunday October 17, 2010

 

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