Leadership in Unprecedented Times: Mich. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson Speaks During Symposium on Democracy

Created: March 2, 2021
Last Updated: March 2, 2021

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WASHINGTON, PA (March 2, 2021)—As election officials across the country have ensured the integrity of the 2020 general election, they have faced intense political pressure and threats on their and their family members’ lives. Through all of this, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has been a thoughtful and leading voice in the national conversation about ensuring secure and transparent elections that are safe for voters, election officials, and our collective democracy.

Benson, a Western Pennsylvania native, spoke on this on Feb. 17, 2021, during Washington & Jefferson College’s fourth annual Symposium on Democracy.

“I reached out to Jocelyn because I recognized she had something important to say about these issues [election security and safety], and she says it well. She’s also among the public officials who tragically have endured personal threats who alleged fraud in the last election,” President John C. Knapp said at the beginning of the session.

Benson acknowledged that the 2020 presidential election was a test for our democracy, since it not only faced an unprecedented misinformation campaign but a global pandemic.

“Another piece of our experience in Michigan and elsewhere was that a lot of what we feared prior to the election or on election day didn’t actually come to pass. A big reason why that didn’t come to pass was because we were prepared,” Benson explained, detailing how Michigan election officials successfully carried out a voting education campaign.

“We worked at the state level to overcome the challenges that democracy faced last year, how we prevailed – because we did prevail despite the deep challenges and how we worked to protect the will of our voters despite an unprecedented scenario,” Benson added. Ultimately, preparing for counter-misinformation tactics and ensuring that each voter understood how to vote created a smooth and safe process in Michigan for the 2020 presidential election.

Secretary Benson is an associate professor of law at Wayne State University Law School where she formerly served as dean. She is a native of Canonsburg, Pa.

A recap of 2021 Symposium events can be found on the Symposium on Democracy website.

About Washington & Jefferson College
Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.

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