Incumbent Jocelyn Benson (D), Kristina Karamo (R), and three others are running for Michigan Secretary of State

Incumbent Jocelyn Benson (D), Kristina Karamo (R), and three others are running for Michigan Secretary of State on November 8, 2022.

A dispute between Benson and former President Donald Trump (R) about the outcome of the 2020 election has brought national attention to this race. According to the Detroit Free Press, “In 2020, Trump blasted Benson’s decision to mail absentee ballot applications to every voter in Michigan during the COVID-19 pandemic, shining a spotlight on her office. She has vigorously defended how the election was administered that year and spoken out against lies and misinformation attacking its legitimacy.”

Benson has served as secretary of state since 2017. She worked with the Democratic National Committee and the Michigan Democratic Party to develop training programs for election law attorneys from 2004 to 2008, and she wrote a book that she says is about the role secretaries of state play in defending democracy. Benson says she is “[c]ommitted to the nonpartisan operation of the Secretary of State’s Office” and says she “transformed its operations to provide faster and more convenient service for every Michigander…while ensuring that elections are free, fair, secure and accurate, and fighting to protect voting rights for all Michigan voters whether Republicans, Democrats or Independents.”

Karamo is a community college educator and podcast host. After serving as a poll challenger during the 2020 election, Karamo says she witnessed fraud on Detroit’s absentee counting board, which motivated her to run for secretary of state. Karamo criticizes Benson’s performance in office, saying, “Our voting rights consist of ballot access, ballot security, and preventing illegal ballots from being injected into the system and the current officeholder has not done a sufficient job in protecting our voting rights.” If elected, Karamo said she will audit the state’s voter registration list, “With so many people voting absentee we have to make sure that that voting list is accurate because we open the door for individuals to request ballots for people who are not Michigan citizens [or] do not exist…”

Minor party, independent, and write-in candidates include Larry Hutchinson, Jr. (G), Gregory Stempfle (L), and Christine Schwartz of the U.S. Taxpayers Party.

This is one of 27 elections for secretary of state taking place in 2022. All but three states have a secretary of state. Although the specific duties and powers of the office vary from state to state, secretaries of state are often responsible for the maintenance of voter rolls and for administering elections. Other common responsibilities include registering businesses, maintaining state records, and certifying official documents. There are currently 27 Republican secretaries of state and 20 Democratic secretaries of state.

A state government triplex refers to a situation where the governor, attorney general, and secretary of state are all members of the same political party.

As of October 31, 2022, there are 23 Republican triplexes, 18 Democratic triplexes, and 9 divided governments where neither party holds triplex control.

Michigan is a Democratic triplex.