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SOS: Jocelyn Benson Rocks the OCDP house!

by: Brainwrap

Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 17:26:05 PM EDT

Tuesday night saw a momentous milestone in the Oakland County Democratic Party's history: I actually made it to their monthly meeting on time for once! Change Happened!

Seriously, though, aside from the other various and sundry items on the agenda, the most interesting event of the evening IMHO was the special guest speaker, Prof. Jocelyn Benson, who is running for Michigan Secretary of State in 2010.

This is significant for a number of reasons: First, Prof. Benson has a hell of a resume. Rather than try to parrot it, I'll just give a summary from her official campaign website:

Brainwrap :: SOS: Jocelyn Benson Rocks the OCDP house!
Benson is currently a full time Assistant Professor of Law at Wayne State University Law School, where she teaches Election Law. She is also an appointed member of the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Election Law. Being a member of the committee inspired her to create the Richard Austin Center on Election Law and Administration. The Austin Center, incorporated in October 2008, seeks to work with local election administrators to promote innovations and improve the election administration process in Michigan.

Prior to her appointment as a Professor, Benson served as a law clerk to the Honorable Damon J. Keith on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. From 2002-2004, she served as the Voting Rights Policy Coordinator of the Harvard Civil Rights Project, where she worked on the passage of the federal Help America Vote Act. In late 2009, Benson's book, Democracy and the State Secretary of State, will be published by Ashgate. The book highlights best practices of Secretaries from throughout the country and seeks to inform voters about how Secretaries of State from either side of the political spectrum can work to advance democracy and election reform.

Prof. Benson spoke passionately about many of the issues that all participants in the democratic (and Democratic) process should hold dear: Reliable voting equipment; random audits to ensure accuracy; same-day registration and no-reason absentee voting; transparency and fairness in the entire election process; and much more. In addition, she also spoke about some of the non-election-related areas of the Secretary of State's office, such as reducing the long lines at the SoS branch offices, increasing the efficiency of paperwork processing, and correcting one item which I found astonishing: Apparently, currently, you can't use a credit card to make a payment at any Michigan Secretary of State offices! In 2009! You can pay by credit card online, or at the kiosks, but if you actually walk up to the desk at a SoS branch office, you have to pay by check or cash at the moment. Astonishing.

In any event, after the official meeting, I had the opportunity to speak further with Prof. Benson, and found her to be very knowledgeable about all things election-related and raring to go on improving the system. She's met with and learned from numerous other SoS's around the nation, including Ohio SoS Jennifer Brunner, California SoS Debra Bowen, and Minnesota SoS Mark Ritchie (currently embroiled in the still-ongoing Al Franken/Norm Coleman U.S. Senate Recount Case).

In short, Prof. Benson is the Real Deal, and certainly appears to be a serious, credible and highly-qualified candidate for Michigan Secretary of State. I strongly suggest that you check out her website and consider giving her a hand, whether through volunteering or a financial donation. She's starting very early (wisely, in my view, given that the silly rules of the Michigan Democratic Party have our SoS and Atty General nominees not being officially decided upon until the state convention in late AUGUST of 2010, which means no one knows who the hell is running until just 2 months before the election), and predicted that the race will run from $3-$5 million.

On the web: http://www.votebenson.com

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SoS Credit Cards
I hate to admit it but I think that the secretary of state offices have been pretty good lately.  I have a friend who works in a detroit branch and she said that they take some credit cards and that the others are coming.  It was a problem on the credit card companies end, not the states.  Of all the crappy GOP politicians i think that terry lynn land isnt that bad.  


I'd love to see a young progressive like Benson be our next SoS, but I do have to say I agree with Eric's post earlier.

I personally am quite happy with the secretary of state office and don't mind the job Lynn Land has done. Last time I renewed, I used one of those ATM kiosk things in the lobby. No line, no waiting. The branch near me does accept credit cards at the counter too.  

...except that Land is term-limited anyway.
The question of whether she's the "least-objectionable" Republican or not is moot. She can't run for SoS again anyway, as I understand it, so it's an open seat.

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