(Between now and the general election on November 8, Michigan News Source will write a series of candidate profiles. Below is a profile on current Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat. She was elected in 2018 and is running against Republican Kristina Karamo.)

What do you offer Michigan residents that your opponent does not?

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There is a stark contrast between my opponent and me.

I believe the Secretary of State’s office must be above partisanship and deliver real results to make government work better for all Michiganders. Whether you’re a Republican, Democrat or vote as an independent, every voice must be heard and every vote must be counted. Since being sworn in nearly four years ago, I have worked hard make sure the Secretary of State’s office is efficient, effective, and that it works for everyone.

We have dramatically reformed the way Michigan residents interact with the Secretary of State’s office. Whether you renew your license plates and driver license online, through the mail, or at a self service station in Meijer or Kroger, we’ve doubled the number of transactions available online so you can pass on doing business in person. If you do go into one of our offices you’ll find we’ve eliminated the ‘take a ticket and wait’ system and the hours-long wait time that came with it. Now every Michigan resident can get in and out of our branch offices in an average of 20 minutes.

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I am also proud to have presided over the safest, most secure election in Michigan history. A record-setting 5.5 million Michigan voters cast ballots in the 2020 general election. To facilitate this my team and I:

• Launched innovative new ways to engage underrepresented voters, including programs in areas of the state with historically low voter participation rates;
• Modernized Michigan’s voter registration system, making it easier to register to vote, authorizing voter registration online and implementing automatic voter registration for all eligible citizens and in-person voter registration on Election Day;
• Developed and lead the state’s first campaign to recruit a new generation of poll workers, resulting in over 30,000 new election volunteers;
• Helped provide and place over 1,000 secure drop boxes in hundreds of communities, ensuring all voters can return their ballot conveniently, safely and securely; and,
• Implemented two, voter-approved constitutional amendments guaranteeing every voter the right to vote by absentee ballot and establishing an independent, citizen redistricting commission.

What is the most important issue Michigan voters face?

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Government must work for every citizen – it must be responsive, accountable, and ensure every voice is heard. For our office this means continuing to ensure driver license services and other transactions are convenient and efficient for every Michigander while also working to ensure our elections remain free, fair and accessible to all.

The security of the 2020 election still troubles many Michigan voters. How will you work for the people?

Trust in the election process has been sabotaged not by fraud, but by our real enemy: misinformation. The 2020 election was the safest, most secure election in Michigan’s history. It’s important that citizens know the truth and that media report that truth, which has been reaffirmed not only by hundreds of state and local audits conducted by Republican, Democratic and non-partisan officials but by the Republican-led State Senate Oversight Committee and Michigan’s Auditor General. Moving forward, we will use facts and data to drive all that we do to ensure secure elections while increasing transparency so everyone has access to truthful information.

What is your highest priority?

Working hard to make government – and our offices – work for every Michigander is my highest priority. Whether it’s increasing the convenience of our driver and vehicle services or ensuring that our elections are accessible, safe and secure for every Michigan voter, my highest priority is to make sure every voice is heard, every vote is counted, and every Michigan resident has access to quality, efficient service.

What are you hearing from Michiganders while on the campaign trail?

The number one thing I hear from citizens across our state — from Houghton to Hillsdale, from Grand Rapids to Detroit — is how grateful they are for the dramatic improvements we made to our services. Whether people are renewing license plates or driver licenses while grocery shopping, from the convenience of their home computer, or walking into a branch office where they are in and out in 20 minutes or less, it’s clear to everyone that our office is working better than ever. And we’ve got more changes in store, including mobile offices that will visit senior centers and other places to better serve Michiganders. My life’s work has focused on serving and improving services for every citizen, and I’m energized and excited that so many Michiganders are experiencing those improvements first hand. We’ve delivered real results for almost four years and hopefully voters will give me another four years to continue doing even more.

More about SOS Jocelyn Benson’s campaign can be found here.