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Mole's Progressive Democrat

The Progressive Democrat Newsletter grew out of the frustration of the 2004 election. Originally intended for New York City progressives, its readership is now national. For anyone who wants to be alerted by email whenever this newsletter is updated (usually weekly), please send your email address and let me know what state you live in (so I can keep track of my readership).

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I am a research biologist in NYC. Married with two kids living in Brooklyn.

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  • Friday, December 18, 2009

    Michigan Secretary of State: Jocelyn Benson

    I want to highlight an excellent candidate for Michigan Secretary of State: Jocelyn Benson.

    Here is part of Benson's bio from her website:

    Jocelyn Benson has dedicated her career to working for fair elections. As an election law expert, Benson fights to eliminate barriers to voting and preserve the integrity of our elections. As our Secretary of State, Jocelyn Benson will promote access and accountability. She will advocate for a responsive government that serves all Michigan citizens.

    Benson is one of the leading election law experts and educators in the state of Michigan. She is a nationally recognized educator, attorney, and voter advocate dedicated to promoting access and protecting the integrity of the election process.

    Prior to attending law school at Harvard, Benson lived in Montgomery, Alabama, the cradle of the Civil Rights Movement. She worked for the Southern Poverty Law Center as an investigative journalist, researching white supremacist and neo-Nazi organizations. By the time she left Alabama to earn her Masters degree as a Marshall Scholar at Oxford University in the UK, she was instilled with a sense of responsibility for continuing the work of the voting rights advocates who risked their lives in Selma, Alabama, in order to ensure the one person, one vote promise in the Constitution became a reality.

    During the 2004 Presidential election, Benson was hired to develop the first nationwide Election Protection program for the Democratic National Committee. Benson selected, recruited, and trained Voter Protection coordinators in 21 states. The program resulted in deployment of over 17,000 trained election law lawyers.

    Since 2004, Benson has worked with Michigan Democratic Party’s election protection effort in 2006, and has developed and supervised two statewide nonpartisan election protection efforts in Michigan, in 2007 and 2008. During the 2008 election, she was called to testify before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, where she called on Secretary Land to ban the use of foreclosure lists to challenge voters’ eligibility on Election Day. She is a frequent commentator on voting rights and election law on several local news and radio broadcasts.


    Benson is one of three candidates this year chosen by the Secretary of State Project and she is excellent. Here is what the Secretary of State Project has to say:

    , candidate for Secretary of State in Michigan
    Election law scholar and community organizer Jocelyn Benson is running for an open seat to replace republican Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land who is term-limited out of office. In 2004, she ran a voter protection campaign in 21 states, deploying 17,000 trained election law lawyers. In Michigan in 2008, Benson helped lead the fight to stop republican Secretary of State Land from disenfranchising voters who were victims of home foreclosures.

    Support our 2010 candidates by donating via ActBlue today!

    Criteria for Endorsement

    The Secretary of State Project evaluates candidates based on their positions on election issues. Specifically, affirm that you support the following principles:

    1) No election official should play a partisan role in an election he or she will play a role in administering. All election officials must conduct their responsibilities openly and objectively to restore public confidence.

    2) Our elections must be verifiable and secure. Every vote cast must be counted by a system that is auditable with a verifiable paper trail and all voting materials, including ballots and voting machines must be secured at all times.

    3) Universal, automatic, and portable voter registration should be the goal of every state. Our election officials should endorse state and federal legislation legislation in support of this ultimate goal.

    4) Election officials should not place onerous requirements on or attempt to intimidate non-partisan voter registration groups.

    5) Voter suppression and election fraud defined as the intent to cast a ballot illegally will not be tolerated. Efforts to suppress the vote through onerous requirements, such as unconstitutional photo ID laws, must be opposed.

    6) There should be equal access to the ballot box for all citizens. Every citizen must have equal access to locations, adequate machines and well-trained election judges. Efforts to raise voter participation of citizens who often face special barriers, such as students, military personnel, low-income people and minorities — including Election Day Registration — should be endorsed and actively supported.


    You can learn more about Jocelyn Benson from her website.

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