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Michigan's Jocelyn Benson ready to defend mail-in voting at Democratic convention

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson will join the California secretary of state Thursday in offering a pre-recorded statement on voting rights to the Democratic National Convention. 

The comments by Benson and California's Alex Padilla will be played on national television following a tribute to Congressman John Lewis, who died last month. The statement will come on the last night of the convention when former Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to accept the party's presidential nomination.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson talks about the Aug. 4 primary.

Benson will encourage viewers to vote by mail, according to a Monday press release from her campaign. 

The Detroit Democrat helped drive increased mail-in participation Aug. 4 when she mailed absentee ballot applications to Michigan's 7.7 million qualified voters. Benson also plans to send 4.4 million postcards in the coming weeks to remind Michigan voters who still haven't requested an absentee ballot that they can do so ahead of the November election. 

"There is absolutely zero difference between voting by mail and voting absentee," Benson said in the recorded remarks, according to the press release.  "Millions of Americans vote absentee and have for decades. Donald Trump, his family, his staff: They all vote by mail.  In fact, states like Colorado, Utah, and Oregon have been voting by mail for years. Republicans and Democrats agree that it’s safe.”

Benson's May mailing of absentee applications drew some criticism from Republican officials after ballots were mailed to people who were dead or moved but whose information had not yet been adjusted in state records.

On Aug. 4, a record 1.6 million people voted absentee, surpassing the previous November 2016 absentee record of 1.27 million. In early August, roughly 2.4 million people had registered to vote absentee in the Nov. 3 election. 

Benson has urged lawmakers to pass legislation that would allow clerks to process ballots earlier than the day of the election to ensure results are not delayed by the uptick in absentee numbers. 

Benson is joining other Michiganians in addressing the Democratic National Convention, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, state Rep. Mari Manoogian of Birmingham and Gerald Lang, a United Auto Workers vice president at Local 5960 in Orion Township representing unionized workers at the General Motors Co. plant. 

eleblanc@detroitnews.com