Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on Wednesday night rejected President Donald Trump’s bogus claims in his fit of fury via Twitter over her decision to send out applications to vote by mail to registered voters in her state amid COVID-19.
“I’m dumbfounded this is controversial because there are Democratic and Republican secretaries of state doing what we’re doing here in Michigan,” Benson said in an interview with MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes while discussing Trump’s attacks. “But to me, it’s also a reflection of what will be happening in our state in the months ahead, which is an effort to misinform and confuse voters about their rights in this state. We see it happening nationally.”
The Michigan official asserted that she had a “responsibility” to “try to cut through that misinformation that chaos, that confusion” by keeping voters informed of their voting options and assuring them that their votes will be protected.
Benson also pushed back against Trump’s false claim that mail-in voting leads to election fraud.
“We’ve got the tools in place not just to ensure every citizen can vote by mail but to ensure that when they do so, it’s secure,” she told Hayes. “Every signature, every citizen, every voter who is voting by mail is required to sign the envelope in which their ballot is returned and that signature is then matched with their voter registration to confirm they are who they are. The security measures are in place.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Trump had smeared Benson as a “rogue Secretary of State” and falsely claimed she had sent the applications “illegally” even though she had every legal right to do so.
He then attempted to coerce Michigan into reversing the initiative by threatening to freeze federal funding to the state “if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path” (there is no evidence that sending the applications nor voting by mail fosters voter fraud).
However, Benson told TPM on Wednesday that her state, which already allowed mail-in voting years before she began sending the applications in May, had no intention of giving in to Trump’s demand.
“We’re moving full steam ahead in doing our work,” the official said.
Trump made the same threat against Nevada on Wednesday after discovering that the state had sent mail-in ballots to all voters statewide for its June primaries.
Like Benson, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) refused to back down.
“Nevada is widely recognized as being a national leader in election administration, and we will continue to support the safest, most accessible election possible under these unprecedented circumstances,” he tweeted.