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Elections in Michigan: Senate Oversight Committee, Sec. Benson exchange letters, statements

The Senate Oversight Committee, chaired by State Sen. Ed McBroom, recently invited Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to speak to the committee about past and future elections.
State Senator Ed McBroom (R-Waucedah Township), left, and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson...
State Senator Ed McBroom (R-Waucedah Township), left, and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D), left.(WLUC/State of Michigan)
Published: Apr. 5, 2021 at 1:35 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) - With the State of Michigan and Legislators working to revamp the election process, hearings are underway in Lansing.

To that end, the Senate Oversight Committee (SOC), chaired by State Senator Ed McBroom (R-Waucedah Township) recently invited Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) to testify before the SOC about elections in Michigan on Tuesday, April 20.

On Monday, April 5, Sec. Benson sent a letter to the SOC, declining to attend, but noted that Bureau of Elections Director Jonathan Brater would.

“Director Brater is happy to share his knowledge of the audit processes and findings with the committee. However, I am declining to participate at this time because I have concerns that the hearing could further the lies about the election that continue to undermine Michigan voters’ faith in the outcome and are now the rationale to legislatively restrict their voting rights,” she said in her letter. “Indeed, shortly after the election, the Senate Oversight Committee hosted a hearing that featured testimony from dozens of people who lacked any expertise in election administration, giving them a platform to spread misinformation and lies about the election. And while subsequent hearings did allow election officials to share facts and data that disproved the misinformation, multiple members of the committee are still sponsoring legislation based on these same lies to make it harder for Michigan citizens to vote.”

Following her response, State Senator Ed McBroom, issued a letter of his own Monday (though the letter was dated April 6), saying in part:

“While the committee will benefit from having Director Brater there to provide details on certain aspects of managing election-related actions taken by the department, I believe it is imperative that the State’s chief election officer, ultimately elected to and charged with making the final decisions, be present as well. This is precisely why my invitation was specific to having both of you attend,” McBroom said. “The invitation for you to speak before the committee was provided well in advance, with a commitment to openness and transparency. To be respectful of your time and ensure the hearing is productive, I even agreed to a pre-committee meeting to allow you the ability to prepare your answers in advance and to understand the objectives of the committee. Your decision to refuse our invitation, while recently testifying in front of the United States Congress on election procedures and policies, directly managed by Mr. Brater, is disappointing and perplexing.”

McBroom also said there hasn’t been open communication, and that his “repeated requests” to connect with Sec. Benson haven’t been responded to.

Following McBroom’s letter, Jake Rollow, spokesperson for the Michigan Department of State, issued the following statement:

“Secretary Benson and her staff have worked closely with members of the state Senate and Legislature for several months and will continue to do so. To suggest otherwise is disingenuous. However, the Oversight Committee and its members have on several occasions taken action and made statements to undermine public faith in our democracy by spreading misinformation about the 2020 elections. Secretary Benson has repeatedly affirmed that she cannot in good conscience participate in such a charade, particularly after multiple members of the committee recently sponsored legislation to restrict the right to vote and, among other things, undermine Michigan voters’ state constitutional right to vote absentee. The Secretary does appreciate the good faith with which members of the Legislature on both sides of the aisle have embraced components of her Advance the Vote, Protect Democracy plan and looks forward to further discussions in the weeks ahead.”

TV6 has reached out for further comment from McBroom, or his office, following the statement from Rollow, along with a corrected date letter.

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