Secretary of State declines to speak with House committee investigating elections

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson(WJRT)
Published: Dec. 16, 2020 at 2:19 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - The Michigan House Oversight Committee will not hear directly from the state’s top election official during its investigation into claims of irregularities with 2020 voting.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson declined an invitation to testify before the committee in a letter issued on Wednesday.

She is concerned that the Oversight Committee is “amplifying already debunked conspiracy theories and previously disproven claims of people who lack basic knowledge of election administration, and in doing so undermining the integrity of the election and wounding our democracy.”

Benson said federal authorities and judges nominated by both major political parties have found that the election was secure and the results are accurate. She remains willing to talk with lawmakers about reform and improvements for future elections, however.

“Particularly beneficial legislation that already has bipartisan support would provide election clerks more time to process absentee ballots before Election Day, and give military members and their spouses overseas the opportunity to securely return their ballots electronically,” Benson wrote.

State Rep. Matt Hall, who is chairman of the Oversight Committee, accused Benson of a “flip-flop” on an earlier promise to testify before the committee.

“Secretary of State Benson said she would be willing to testify before the people’s representatives when it made a good talking point for her and got her good press,” he said. “But when the rubber met the road and it came time to answer questions about her work, she refused to take questions.”

The House and Senate Oversight Committees began looking into the voting process for this year’s elections in November. Republican legislative leaders say the hearings are mean to maintain trust and transparency with Michigan’s election process.

“This is about people, not politics. The electoral votes for Michigan have been submitted. But people in Michigan still have questions about their state’s elections and those questions deserve answers,” Hall said. “I fear we are headed for more distrust in the future if people are denied clarity and transparency from officials who head up the process.”

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