You may have missed the latest on how Secretary of State Ruth Johnson is trying to squirm out of the responsibilities that come with the job. If so, that’s okay – that’s probably the reason it was announced at 4:00 on a Friday afternoon.
Last Friday, Secretary Johnson quietly released a statement saying she and Attorney General Bill Schuette were suing 24 clerks for failing to send absentee ballots to overseas military voters in time for the November election. This came two months after the Department of Justice announced it was suing the state for the same thing, except for the primary and special elections in August.
Wayne State elections professor and Executive Director of the Michigan Center for Election Law Jocelyn Benson summed it up nicely, saying “it’s unfortunate that the Secretary only feels obligated to stand up for our military and overseas personnel when a federal court orders her to do so. Instead of pointing a finger at local clerks, she should address the shortcomings in her own department to ensure all eligible voters can make their voices heard on Election Day, especially our men and women serving in uniform.”
The simple fact is Ruth Johnson is responsible for elections in the state of Michigan. She can try to evade that responsibility by demagoguing for partisan legislation that would suppress votes, and distract with misleading claims about illegal immigrants voting in Michigan elections. But as Secretary of State, she needs to focus on doing whatever it takes to protect and ensure free and fair elections.
Note: It’s clear that Ruth Johnson has the wrong priorities. But you can help protect our sacred right to vote. A nonpartisan coalition has set up an election protection hotline at 866-OUR VOTE. Call it on Election Day or before if you have any questions or problems – and tell your friends so they know too.