Candidate profile: Jocelyn Benson makes '30-minute guarantee' for SOS branch offices

Jocelyn Benson, D - Candidate for Secretary of State

Hometown: Detroit

Education: Wellesley College, Oxford University, Harvard Law School

Experience: Ran for secretary of state in 2010

Of note: Dean of Wayne State Law School, board member of Southern Poverty Law Center

The Secretary of State’s race is crowded, but Democrat Jocelyn Benson believes her experience is enough to help her clinch the election.

Benson ran for the office in 2010 and lost to current SOS Ruth Johnson. Back again, she said he’s ready to "make it easier to vote and harder to cheat" for Michiganders.

“To me, there’s no office that’s more important in the state than the Secretary of State’s Office because it interacts with more citizens than any other office,” Benson said.

Author of State Secretaries of State: Guardians of the Democratic Process, Benson said she understands what it takes to make successful secretary of state and is poised to be the most qualified.

“My long-standing commitment to this office and interest in doing this job is not a secretary and it’s also why I’m most prepared to do it,” she said.

If elected, she would be the first Democrat to serve in this role since Richard Austin left office in 1994. Benson’s platform includes a "30-minute guarantee" at all branch locations across Michigan. She wants to reduce the number of times someone needs to visit a branch office in the first place by offering services online as well as partnering with businesses to include SOS kiosks in stores.

“So that you can renew your tabs while you’re doing your grocery shopping,” Benson said.

The Democratic candidate also wants to commission a time study for every branch office in Michigan.

“We’ve never collected any data on why you can actually get in and out in 30 minutes in some offices and not others,” she said.

Another part of Benson’s platform includes expanding the voting process. She wants to allow online voter registration in Michigan, include an option for veterans in a hostile combat zone to submit their ballot online and introduce straight-ticket voting.

Benson has experience with military voting. Her husband was deployed, sent in his ballot, but she later found his returned absentee ballot marked undeliverable and therefore, not counted. That experience, she said, is part of why she wants to make the process easier for military service members and their families.

“No citizen, whether it’s a military service member, a veteran, or any citizen in the state should ever feel like their ballot and their voice is not heard and their vote is not counted,” Benson said.

During her stint as Dead of Wayne State Law School, she instituted a tuition freeze and that is something she said she wants to implement at the SOS Office.

“I have a track record of running institutions, implementing my ideas and getting results,” she said.

Learn more about Benson’s plan for Secretary of State at her campaign website.

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