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Benson got to sign bill adopting SOS ballot policy


A new law ensures that people can continue to apply online to have an absentee ballot mailed to them

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson recently signed a voting rights law.

Benson, Michigan’s top election official and a passionate voting rights advocate, signed the bill while Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist were both out of the state Friday on business. The new law makes permanent a policy that allows registered voters to apply online to have an absentee ballot mailed to them.

“I’m grateful for this opportunity to serve as acting governor and sign this important bill to improve Michigan’s election system,” Benson said in a statement released by her office. “As Michigan’s Secretary of State, I implemented our state’s online absentee ballot application system in 2020 to provide a convenient, accessible way for Michigan citizens to request their ballot. Now this system is codified into law.”

The system was first used in 2020, early in the COVID-19 pandemic. The Michigan Bureau of Elections mailed postcards to 4.4 million people on the state’s list of active registered voters who had not already signed up to have absentee ballots sent to them. The voters were informed they could electronically request a ballot through a state portal as a safe alternative to having to head to a local clerk’s office.

The bill was adopted on party-line votes last month by the Legislature’s Democratic majorities. It was part of a larger package of election bills opposed by most Republicans as being too lax when it came to election security.

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