Senator cites safety and recent Wisconsin election issues in letter
LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Ruth Johnson on Friday sent a letter to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson urging them to “do the right thing” and postpone the May 5 election and combine it with the August election.
“Continuing with a May 5 election puts election workers and voters at extreme risk, and it needlessly jeopardizes the integrity of the election,” said Johnson, chair of the Senate Elections Committee and former Michigan secretary of state. “I strongly encourage Gov. Whitmer and Secretary Benson to do the right thing: Preserve our democracy, protect the voting public, protect our clerks, protect their staffs, and protect our election workers — who are largely senior citizens and at a greater risk from COVID-19.
“Michigan should never disenfranchise voters who do not vote by absentee ballot by making them choose between voting and their health, safety and possible death — especially when moving the election to a later date is a viable option.”
Johnson’s April 17 letter is the latest letter from Johnson in response to Executive Order No. 2020-27 directing jurisdictions in Michigan to proceed with their scheduled May 5 elections.
The letter mentions that the Wisconsin Elections Commission strongly urged people to vote absentee in its recent election, and the state had serious issues. Johnson, R-Holly, wrote, “In Wisconsin, there are reports that thousands of voters never even received their absentee ballots and then had to go vote in person or were disenfranchised because they chose not to go vote and risk their safety.”
Johnson’s letter also noted reporting from the New York Times that Wisconsin’s approach “forced several thousand more to endanger their lives at polls and burdened already strained state health officials with a grim new task: tracking the extent to which in-person voting contributed to the virus’s spread in the state, a federal disaster area.”
At least 16 other states, including neighboring Indiana and Ohio, have already delayed their elections to preserve people’s right to vote.