Michigan election security priority for Secretary of State’s Office

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said law enforcement presence will be heightened at polling places across the state to prevent voter intimidation on Nov. 8.
Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 7:46 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) - Election Day is Nov. 8. That means those who have not already voted absentee will head to the polls on that day.

Voters will decide Michigan’s next governor, the future of abortion rights and more.

Ahead of Election Day, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson held a press conference to address how her office is preparing for possible election disruptions.

Benson said that protests over state election results are still very likely after Nov. 8.

“We know that there are potentially efforts afoot to undermine or interfere with the security of our elections or simply the smoothness and sanctity of polling place operations on election day,” Benson said.

Benson added, however, that Michigan is more prepared for voting disruptions now than it was back in 2020.

“Our office will have over 50 people in the field throughout the state,” Benson said of the Secretary of State Office.

Benson continued, “We will ensure and are already working with law enforcement at every level to rapidly respond to any disruptions that occur.”

Benson made it clear that interfering with voters or election processes is against the law.

“Voter intimidation is illegal, disrupting our election processes is illegal,” Benson explained. “That goes for poll workers, poll challengers, poll observers and even voters.”

Benson said the Secretary of State Office has issued guidelines for poll employees to follow on Election Day. These include what qualifies a poll worker to remove an individual who is causing a disruption.

“Every poll worker has a code of conduct that they will be provided with, likely at the beginning of the day, to indicate where the guard rails are and under which circumstances someone may be removed from their positions,” Benson noted.

Benson went on, “We have a no tolerance policy for disruptions of elections on Election Day and again we have several protocols in place to ensure that disruptions if they occur, are quickly minimized.”

Benson said that while there are many measures in place to create safe polling locations, she does not expect widespread election disruption efforts.

“We anticipate if there are disruptions they will be isolated, they won’t be widespread and we will quickly mitigate any impact that they have on any voter’s experience,” Benson noted.

Benson did add that she expects many disruptors to challenge the ballot-counting process rather than ballot casting itself. Benson highlighted one area in particular where she expects many protestors to show up after Tuesday.

“We assume there will be the most efforts at disruption, particularly in Detroit at Huntington Place where the absentee ballots will be counted,” Benson explained.

Benson went on to say that disruptors could slow down the process of retrieving unofficial election results. However, Benson said the goal is to get those unofficial results out a day after the polls close on Nov. 8.

“Within 24 hours of the polls closing on Election Day, you can anticipate knowing the unofficial results in Michigan,” Benson said.

The League of Women Voters of Marquette County (LWV) believes our elections are secure. LWV Vice President of Voter Services Priscilla Burnham says one reason is that they are conducted by city and county clerks, as well as poll workers on both sides of the political aisle.

“There are Democratic and Republican poll challengers, poll watchers, poll workers and the Board of Canvassers is made up of two Democrats and two Republicans,” Burnham said.

Burnham explained that voting machines are also heavily protected, making election fraud extremely difficult.

“There are passwords, keys and all sorts of things to prevent any one person from getting unauthorized access to ballots,” said Burnham.

Burnham added absentee ballot drop boxes are monitored by surveillance to ensure they are not tampered with.

Those who are registered to vote absentee can still turn in their ballots until Nov. 8. Otherwise, you can vote in person at that time.

Secretary of State Benson hopes Election Day goes smoothly.

Benson added that Michigan is more prepared now than it was in 2020 to address possible disruptors.