Jocelyn Benson: The terrifying moment armed people showed up at my home screaming falsehoods and obscenities about the election

Article Image

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says the pro-Trump crowd verbally attacking her outside of her home is really attacking the voters of her state.

Posted: Dec 8, 2020 6:40 PM
Updated: Dec 8, 2020 6:40 PM

In a sad reflection of the divisive moment in which our country now finds itself, armed people descended on my home last Saturday, screaming falsehoods and obscenities into a bullhorn while my family was finishing hanging Christmas decorations and my four year old was settling in to watch "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

In the dark of night, these agitators, unhappy with the results of an election that did not go their partisan way and buoyed with falsehoods and unproven allegations of fraud, spent 40 minutes chanting about disproven conspiracy theories and stolen elections.

As an attorney and former law school dean, I am a vociferous advocate for the right and importance of peaceful protest as enshrined in the United States Constitution. But a line is crossed when the gatherings occur at private residences with the express goal to intimidate public officials who are carrying out their oath of office.

But let's be clear. This incident, terrifying and unnerving as it was for my family and our neighbors -- several of whom have young kids of their own -- was not an isolated one. It is instead just the latest in a string of attacks that are a direct outgrowth of the hateful rhetoric and threats of violence we've seen invade our public discourse here in Michigan, and throughout our country, for several months. Indeed, in the month since the polls closed on November 3, we've seen hardworking public officials and election administrators on both sides of the aisle subjected to incessant and baseless threats designed to stop us from doing our jobs.

Rep. Cynthia Johnson, an African American state legislator from Detroit, received racist voicemails threatening her life after challenging election fraud claims. My fellow Secretaries of States Brad Raffensberger in Georgia, Katie Hobbs in Arizona and Barbara Cegavske in Nevada have all received death threats. And Chris Krebs, former director of the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, on Tuesday filed a lawsuit after a lawyer for the Trump campaign said Krebs should be "taken out at dawn and shot." (Trump's lawyer has said he was just joking, but that's no laughing matter in today's political environment.)

For all of us, our job is simple: to defend and protect every voter, their choice and their vote. And each of us will continue to proudly, defiantly, guard every citizen's vote, undeterred, because no matter how one voted or who they voted for, where they live, or what they look like, their vote is the lifeblood of our democracy.

And the misguided efforts to spread lies designed to undermine people's faith in what was a well-run, secure, fair and accurate election, need to stop.

It's gone on too long, and it's gone too far.

In Michigan, attacks on our voters and their democracy escalated months ago, when Trump threatened to withhold emergency federal funding for a flooded community in our state, following my decision to merely mail publicly available information to every registered voter in Michigan on how to vote from home in this year's elections. (He ultimately backpedaled and did not follow through.) Just like several of my Republican and Democrat colleagues in other states, I took this action because it was critical to ensure all voters had equal access to information on how to vote remotely in the midst of the pandemic. Voters across the state responded by voting early or absentee in higher numbers than ever before, but the attacks on our system of voting and the effort to falsely erode voters' confidence in their right to vote from home grew from there.

Since the polls closed over a month ago, the efforts to spread false information about the security and accuracy of our elections have become even more brazen and bizarre. Whether it is blatantly false press releases, purely political legislative hearings, bogus legal claims or vague affidavits that fail to allege any clear or cogent evidence of wrongdoing, those unhappy with the results of this election have perpetuated an unprecedented, dangerous and egregious campaign to erode the public's confidence in the results of one of the most secure, accessible and transparent elections in our state's history.

But the game is up. The truth -- and the results of this election -- are abundantly clear. It's time for everyone to call out this conspiracy campaign for what it is -- "incorrect and not credible" according to a local Republican-appointed judge -- and condemn those employing threats, harassment and bullying to further spread these falsehoods. And it's long past time for every single elected official and every leader with a platform to condemn these heinous acts, ultimately aimed at silencing and overturning the will of the more than 150 million United States citizens who cast ballots.

Our democracy is resilient. Those who guard and defend it remain undeterred. And we now need every leader, and every citizen, to join us in responding to these misguided attacks against the truth. At this moment in history, democracy requires us to summon the "strength of ten Grinches, plus two" and stand together in unity regardless of partisanship on behalf of all voters.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 891099

Reported Deaths: 9406
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1743652015
Ramsey720081036
Dakota65596566
Anoka62204564
Washington39195354
Stearns32672274
St. Louis28594394
Wright25235206
Scott25213181
Olmsted21580127
Sherburne18406126
Carver1620266
Clay11865102
Blue Earth1121766
Rice11172138
Crow Wing10954121
Chisago970675
Kandiyohi9612106
Otter Tail9568124
Benton8767123
Beltrami798592
Goodhue781495
Douglas7642100
Itasca748694
Mower720247
Winona699856
McLeod692983
Isanti678383
Steele666030
Morrison661678
Becker617472
Polk589184
Freeborn548845
Carlton525973
Nobles521254
Lyon517261
Mille Lacs513272
Nicollet507559
Pine498041
Cass490252
Todd480942
Brown463457
Le Sueur443633
Meeker421057
Martin375943
Waseca364232
Wabasha363710
Hubbard348248
Dodge347611
Roseau307631
Fillmore297015
Wadena296239
Redwood276545
Houston264817
Renville263151
Faribault252431
Sibley246117
Pennington245629
Kanabec240834
Cottonwood224132
Aitkin215350
Chippewa215141
Pope201210
Watonwan193720
Yellow Medicine184721
Rock174328
Swift168522
Koochiching165323
Stevens163111
Jackson159016
Clearwater155120
Murray150611
Marshall150521
Pipestone147729
Lake129224
Lac qui Parle119425
Wilkin119015
Mahnomen104514
Norman10299
Grant9679
Big Stone9305
Lincoln8665
Kittson71223
Red Lake70410
Traverse5986
Unassigned550124
Lake of the Woods5235
Cook3000

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 516453

Reported Deaths: 7289
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk80319799
Linn32142424
Scott26637292
Black Hawk21974378
Woodbury20490258
Johnson19778105
Dubuque18515241
Pottawattamie15890213
Dallas15320113
Story1380258
Warren8450104
Cerro Gordo7964123
Clinton7725114
Webster7326122
Des Moines7098105
Marshall669093
Muscatine6645117
Wapello6441144
Jasper619591
Sioux610177
Lee5908105
Marion557897
Buena Vista502149
Plymouth488388
Henry418655
Benton404859
Jones404862
Bremer395372
Washington391463
Boone389739
Carroll367755
Mahaska365365
Crawford353747
Dickinson314655
Jackson307747
Buchanan305741
Clay295536
Delaware294654
Kossuth289077
Fayette286353
Hardin284353
Tama279777
Page272533
Wright266149
Cedar265527
Hamilton259857
Winneshiek258143
Floyd255449
Clayton244459
Poweshiek237243
Madison234525
Harrison234379
Cass233466
Butler232744
Iowa229634
Jefferson223043
Mills220930
Winnebago215938
Hancock214639
Cherokee211347
Lyon206142
Appanoose205357
Allamakee203955
Calhoun196919
Shelby196442
Union191141
Humboldt185130
Grundy183637
Franklin183029
Mitchell182043
Chickasaw178922
Emmet178246
Louisa176953
Sac171026
Guthrie168137
Montgomery161745
Clarke160829
Keokuk150839
Palo Alto150532
Howard146824
Monroe142739
Ida130141
Greene127517
Davis124625
Lucas124426
Monona122939
Worth12139
Pocahontas120724
Adair114337
Osceola104818
Decatur101913
Taylor98514
Fremont95913
Van Buren93222
Wayne84525
Ringgold76729
Audubon74917
Adams5748
Unassigned480
Rochester
Partly Cloudy
29° wxIcon
Hi: 32° Lo: 12°
Feels Like: 20°
Mason City
Clear
29° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 12°
Feels Like: 29°
Albert Lea
Clear
30° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 12°
Feels Like: 23°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 13°
Feels Like: 24°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 11°
Feels Like: 23°
Mild heading into the weekend
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Small Business Saturday Preview

Image

Here comes Santa Claus

Image

Every brunette

Image

Chatfield brings home a trophy and KM comes up a bit short

Image

Full Friday Forecast 11/26/2021

Image

Shopping for a Christmas tree

Image

Crowds head to Apache Mall for Black Friday

Image

Sean's Weather 11/26

Image

Black Friday: supporting local this holiday season

Image

"Here comes Santa Claus," event in Rochester tonight

Community Events