Sec. Of State Candidates Largely Unknown

By: Katie Kim Email
By: Katie Kim Email

It's one of the top offices in the state, just second in line to the governorship.

"The Secretary of State is a big deal," says Bill Ballenger from Inside Michigan Politics.

With a lot of big responsibilities, Ballenger says.

"Responsible for all the elections held at the state level in Michigan, state legislature, the governor, constitutional offices, all the judiciary."

And unlike other states, the Michigan Secretary of State also handles all things motor vehicle related -- like renewing driver's licenses and registering cars.

"Within the jursidiction of elections and giving you your driver's license, they can do a heck of a lot. Anything they want," Ballenger says. "People ought to be paying attention to this race."

But most people we spoke to don't even know who is up for election.

Republican candidate Ruth Johnson leads Democratic nominee Jocelyn Benson by 6 points. But Ballenger says both women have little name recognition statewide, so it'll come down to who shows up to vote in November.

"A lot of the voting is going to go along party lines," Ballenger says. "Democrats will vote for Benson and Republicans for Johnson."

Political analysts say at this point, the run for secretary of state is anyone's race. But they say the candidates don't have much time to get their names out there.

"If these candidates can get the money to get on TV, that's key."

Advertising will play a big role, so too will party support, according to Ballenger. But the candidates only have six weeks to turn the tide.

Ruth Johnson thinks non-citizens who are in the country legally should have a special drivers license showing they can not vote. She also wants to ban foreign nationals from spending money on elections in Michigan. And she's worked to merge school and regular elections to save money.

Jocelyn Benson is in favor of in-person early voting and no-reason absentee voting. She wants you to be able to renew your license plates for more than one year at a time. And she thinks the people behind all the robo-calls we get around election time should have to identify themselves.

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