The 2020 election cycle was one of the most contentious in recent history with allegations of election fraud by former President Donald Trump.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D), whose job includes serving as the chief election officer in the state, recently sat down with uPolitics founder Erik Meers to discuss how Trump’s false  narrative about the election has impacted voting.

“There’s a good sign and a bad sign to the impact of having a former president spread lies about not just our elections, administration and procedures, but those who administer them, like myself,” she said. “It means people are paying more attention to these offices than ever before and people are paying more attention to elections and election administration than ever before. That’s a good thing because when you actually look through a transparent lens you see that it’s accessible, that we’ve got protocols in place to protect the integrity of elections and that we’re professionals running this election and we’re doing the job for all voters. Not just one particular voter in one particular party.”

“All of that said, all of his attacks and those of his most ardent followers have created this strain on our work, whether it’s actual violence or threats of violence or harassment and requests for duplicative meaningless information,” she added. “A lot of the misinformation has metastasized to people wanting to interfere with our ability to run future elections. Until there’s accountability for those spreading these lies, we’re going to continue to see these tactics as an effort to deter people from participating … we can’t underestimate the impact the former President’s lies and the misinformation that’s come from it have had on our democracy.”

Benson also shared what she and Michigan are doing to prevent local canvassing boards from blocking the certification of elections like they tried to do in 2020.

“Now we have the benefit of having overcome those challenges,” Benson explained. “We know how important it is to engage clerks and people in the process of standing guard with us over our elections so the fact that hundreds of people showed up to demand certification of the election and their votes in 2020 was really a turning point and enabled us to protect those voices and those votes. I’ll always be proud to stand with those folks.”

“Even chief election officers can’t save democracy on our own,” she continued. “We need people to stand with us and that is what ensured democracy prevailed in 2020 and that’s what will do it again in 2024. Thousands of people signed up to be poll workers. Others signed up to observe the process and are prepared to let us know if they see any disruptions. Law enforcement is working at the local level to make sure the law is enforced and that people who try to intimidate voters are held accountable … Teamwork has really flourished since 2020, putting us in an even better position in future elections to protect against election subversion.”

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