Benson Calls for Support for Parent Candidates, Military Families and Disabled Voters

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson testified yesterday before the Michigan House Elections Committee in favor of bills that would support parents who choose to run for office and military families deployed overseas. 

House Bill 4413 would allow candidates to use campaign funds to pay for childcare, helping level the playing field for parents seeking leadership roles in their communities. 

“Running for office presents unique challenges when you’re the parent of a small child,” Benson said. “And while I loved bringing my son with me to campaign events last year, it also takes a toll. Access to childcare is necessary to ensure parents are able to both take care of our kids and run for office.” 

Currently, 28 states allow the use of campaign funds to pay for childcare, as does Congress, according to the Vote Mama Foundation. Childcare costs are a significant barrier to seeking elected office and disproportionately affect women. In Michigan, only nine lawmakers are also mothers of young children and the state ranks 23rd out of 50 states for the number of moms serving as lawmakers.   

House Bill 4210 would expand the law enacted last year allowing military service members overseas to return their ballots electronically to ensure they are received and counted. HB 4210 would provide the same right to military spouses and dependents deployed overseas. 

Benson urged the committee to pass the bill and to further expand it to afford the same right to eligible citizens living in Michigan with disabilities impacting their ability to read printed text. 

“This bill recognizes the service, sacrifice, and the unique role families play as a part of our military community,” said Secretary Benson. “Spouses and dependents who are stationed on orders overseas also face many of the same challenges as any other military service members when it comes to returning their ballots on time. I urge you to adopt this legislation to ensure all members of our military community serving overseas have the option for secure electronic return of their ballots.” 

Benson told the committee that 31 states and Washington DC allow some form of electronic ballot for military service members. Michigan is currently the only state to grant this allowance to overseas service members but excludes military spouses and dependents.   

“One of my top priorities is ensuring our elections are secure and the voters trust the outcome,” Benson said. “I’m confident that any system we implement in Michigan will be able to support the secure electronic return of ballots for military spouses and dependents stationed overseas, just as it will for all members of the military.” 

The House Elections Committee is expected to consider HB 4210 and HB 4413 in the coming weeks. 



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