Election protesters demonstrate outside Jocelyn Benson's home Saturday night

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
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Protesters demonstrated in front of Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson's home Saturday as part of an effort challenging Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's 154,000-vote win in Michigan. 

The protest took place after dark on Saturday, at least two livestream videos posted to social media from the event show. 

Protesters chanted "Stop the Steal," "We want an audit now," "Legal votes only" and "Forensic audit" on megaphones outside Benson's Detroit home, according to the videos. 

Michigan State Police Lt. Mike Shaw said state troopers and Detroit police responded shortly before 10 p.m. and found a couple dozen people had gathered on the sidewalk and were protesting outside of Benson's home. He said he believed there were some individuals openly carrying firearms.

The protesters eventually departed, he said. 

The protest occurred, Benson said Sunday, as she and her family had finished decorating for Christmas and her 4-year-old son was about to watch "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

The protest crossed a line from peaceful demonstration to a gathering with the "primary purpose of intimidation of public officials who are carrying out the oath of office," Benson said. The protest was the latest in efforts "to spread false information about the security and accuracy of our elections," she said. 

"The demands made outside my home were unambiguous, loud and threatening," she said. "They targeted me in my role as Michigan’s chief election officer. But the threats of those gathered weren’t actually aimed at me — or any other elected officials in this state. They were aimed at the voters.

"Through threats of violence, intimidation and bullying, the armed people outside my home and their political allies seek to undermine and silence the will and voices of every voter in this state, no matter who they voted for," Benson said.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson updates the media during a news conference at TCF Center in Detroit on the progress of ballot counting on Election Day..

Attorney General Dana Nessel and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy denounced the protest as "mob-like behavior" that is "an affront to basic morality and decency." At times, people in the crowd could be heard yelling "'you're murderers' within earshot of her child's bedroom."

"In a civil society, there are many ways to peaceably assemble and demonstrate," Nessel and Worthy said. "Anyone can air legitimate grievances to Secretary Benson’s office through civil and democratic means, but terrorizing children and families at their own homes is not activism."

"This disturbing behavior masquerading as protest should be called out for what it is and roundly condemned by citizens and public officials alike," they said. 

Benson said the efforts of those seeking to undermine the election will not succeed. She vowed neither she nor Michigan's 1,600 election administrators would waver.

"I am acutely aware of the risks borne throughout history of those working to stand guard over and protect our democratic process," Benson said. "Nothing about the incessant and graphic threats made outside my home, or those that flood my social media accounts, will deter me, my team, or the more than 1,600 election administrators across the state of Michigan from doing our jobs."

After the election, Benson said she would perform a statewide- and Wayne County-specific audit. It's not unusual for audits to be performed after an election

eleblanc@detroitnews.com

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