DECISION 2022: Race for Michigan Secretary of State
LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The race for Michigan Secretary of State sees Democrat incumbent Jocelyn Benson facing Republican challenger and political newcomer Kristina Karamo.
“I saw a problem and I wanted to fix it,” Karamo said regarding her campaign. “I went to theology school so I did not have this dream of becoming Secretary of State but I always had been politically engaged because our civic duty does not end at voting.”
“I’m a lawyer and an advocate and a mom,” Benson said of her campaign. “Not a politician, but just someone who really believes that this office is when they can demonstrate to everyone that government can work that democracy can work and encourage everyone regardless of their position or partisan affiliation, to participate in government and to vote and hold your elected officials accountable.”
The race finds itself at the center of attention following the 2020 election, one that incumbent Democrat Jocelyn Benson says was the most secure election in Michigan history despite claims of fraud by some, including her Republican challenger, Kristina Karamo.
“Hundreds of audits that reaffirm those results after the fact so, despite the unprecedented security on the 2020 election, I feel confident I can assure voters it was secure, and the results were an accurate reflection of the will of the people,” Benson said.
The last part is what every Secretary of State has to make sure of, that the voice of the people holds true, and the results of an election are something that rises above partisanship, something each candidate says is important.
“I want my state to grow and part of the puzzle for making Michigan grow is to have an honest secretary of state,” said Karamo. “That’s why I’m running.”
“I firmly believe this office has to be above partisanship,” Benson said. “My job is to make sure everyone democrat republican or independent can vote and can be assured that the results of the election whatever they may be are an accurate reflection of people and will be defended and supported by the state’s chief election officer.”
These two candidates have very different pasts: Karamo has spent time as a professor at Wayne County Community College where she teaches public speaking and college orientation. Despite not having experience in public office, she believes her past has helped prepare her for this job.
“Your job is to put competent teams of individuals together and solve problems as an educator. You do that every day in your job. You work with students to solve problems and you’re dealing with different people,” Karamo said. “If you can operate with human systems, if you will, and then the technical reality like secretary of state’s office where a lot of it is pretty black and white.”
Benson has four years of work in office to look at when evaluating her. Her campaign is highlighting the average time people are spending at the Department of Motor Vehicles, which is down to under twenty minutes per visit. Benson credits appointments and mobile options like kiosks at grocery stores for faster visits.
“Folks can be assured that long gone are the hour-long waits and uncertainty that came previously with visiting a branch office,” Benson said. “Now it’s very clear if you want to do business with the state, we’re going to work with you to make sure it’s convenient for you.”
Karamo says she would like to keep the appointment system in place, but believes walk-ins are also important to stress as it may be hard for some to make appointments or use the mobile kiosks.
“Many of our seniors are not computer savvy,” said Karamo. “That’s not because those people aren’t intelligent, they just didn’t grow up with the technology.”
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