The Secretary of StateSecretary of State Ruth Johnson
Elected as Michigan's 42nd Secretary of State in November 2010, Ruth Johnson serves as chief motor vehicle administrator and chief election officer for the state's nearly 10 million residents. She also maintains the state's official repository of records and certifies documents as Keeper of the Great Seal. She is second in line of succession to the governor.
As secretary, Johnson has made huge strides in streamlining operations, improving customer service and safeguarding election integrity. Using technology and common sense and by fostering partnerships between the private and public sectors, her team at the Department of State cut costs, reduced their general fund budget by 20 percent and improved efficiency for the people of Michigan.
Among her accomplishments, Johnson tripled online services with the launch of ExpressSOS.com. This "no-wait" Secretary of State allows customers to complete the department's most popular transactions online, 24-hours a day, from their home or office computer and is cutting branch wait times for customers.
She also successfully introduced a comprehensive election reform package, her Secure and Fair Elections (SAFE) initiative to clean up Michigan's voter rolls, toughen campaign finance laws and ensure integrity in the elections process. As part of this effort, she fought for – and won – the most significant election reform measures in recent history. The new laws help ensure that only qualified voters cast a ballot on Election Day. They close photo ID loopholes and help voters "follow the money" contributed to candidates and parties. The laws also fight cheating – like ballot coaching in nursing homes and help protect the vote of overseas military members.
Additionally, Johnson made expanding Michigan's organ donor list a priority through new policies and an awareness campaign. Working with SOS employees and partners Gift of Life Michigan and the Michigan Eye-Bank, the efforts paid off with historic gains – a record-setting one million Michiganders added their names to the donor lists during Johnson's first two years in office.
Johnson's work as secretary continues a distinguished career in public service. As a three-term member of the Michigan House of Representatives from 1999 through 2004, she also served on the Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, Education, Health Policy and Transportation Committees.
During her time as a legislator, Johnson, a fiscal conservative, led investigations into the misappropriation of funds at the Oakland County Intermediate School District that resulted in the conviction of a public official and restored money earmarked for kids.
In 2004, Johnson was the first woman ever elected to serve as Oakland County's clerk/register of deeds. As clerk for the state's second-largest county, she won 14 national awards for innovative services that saved money and promoted transparency and accountability. She doubled online services, put campaign finance records online, successfully changed laws to help families in foreclosure, and co-founded OPERATION: OUR TROOPS COUNT to ensure voting rights for overseas military. In 2006, she was a nominee for lieutenant governor in Michigan.
From 1988 to 1998, Secretary Johnson was a member of the Oakland County Board of Commissioners. As commissioner, she tackled such issues as putting prisoners to work and instituting countywide performance audits that provide accountability in government.
A lifelong resident of northern Oakland County, Johnson is also a former small business owner. She is a graduate of Waterford Township High School and has an associate's degree from Oakland Community College, a bachelor's degree from Oakland University and a master's degree from Wayne State University, with honors. She lives in Holly with her husband, Don Nanney, a small-business owner, and their daughter, Emily.