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Michigan secretary of state slams GOP: They 'don't believe in democracy'

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) on Friday slammed GOP efforts in several states to overhaul election rules, arguing that the Republican Party is currently being “led by people who don’t believe in democracy.” 

During a Friday interview with MSNBC’s Ali Velshi, Benson said that laws recently passed or proposed in some states are a direct response to “great enfranchisement” in recent elections, including in 2020, when a record number of people voted, especially those in minority communities. 

“Everything is in peril if you don’t have that power to determine who represents you and hold them accountable,” Benson said. “And for those now in leadership to try to take that power away, it’s reprehensible.” 

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The interview followed Georgia Gov. Brian KempBrian Kemp100 business executives discuss how to combat new voting rules: report Kemp: Pulling All-Star game out of Atlanta will hurt business owners of color Ready or not, the era of corporate political responsibility is upon us MORE’s (R) Thursday evening signing of a controversial law that imposes sweeping voting restrictions in the state, including limiting the number of ballot drop box locations and requiring photo IDs for absentee voting. The law also gives state lawmakers sweeping powers over how elections are run. 

Michigan senators introduced similar legislation on Wednesday putting limits on absentee voting in the state, including ID requirements and preventing the secretary of state from sending out unsolicited absentee ballot applications or making them available online. 

Republicans argue that the bills would help restore confidence in the state’s voting system that they themselves helped undermine through months of debunked claims that the election results in Michigan were tampered with widespread fraud. 

However, Benson, who after the 2020 election faced threats of violence from some of former President TrumpDonald TrumpGaetz was denied meeting with Trump: CNN Federal Reserve chair: Economy would have been 'so much worse' without COVID-19 relief bills Police in California city declare unlawful assembly amid 'white lives matter' protest MORE’s supporters for voting to certify President Biden’s win, said Friday that the proposed Michigan voting laws “would make it significantly more difficult for people to actually access” the right to vote. 

“It’s a number of things that make the administration of the right to vote in Michigan very, very difficult and will have a clear impact of making it harder for people to vote, particularly in historically disenfranchised communities, urban communities, among young voters,” Benson said. 

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She went on to say that the recent proposals “really underscores that the GOP in Michigan and across the country is a party that is led by people who don’t believe in democracy.” 

“History teaches us that oftentimes after those moments with great enfranchisement comes efforts for disenfranchisement … and that’s also what we’re seeing now,” Benson said. 

Democrats have levied criticisms at the slate of new bills, with President Biden on Friday calling Georgia’s new lawJim Crow in the 21st century,” because of the disproportionate impact it is expected to have on Black voters in the state, who turned out in record numbers in 2020 and 2021 to secure electoral wins for Democrats. 

Kemp, however, pushed back on this characterization, writing in a statement, “There is nothing ‘Jim Crow’ about requiring a photo or state-issued ID to vote by absentee ballot – every Georgia voter must already do so when voting in-person.”