Michigan Secretary of State

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Michigan Secretary of State
General information
Office Type:  Partisan
Office website:  Official Link
2013 FY Budget:  $219,548,900
Term limits:  2 terms
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:  Michigan Constitution, Article V, Section 3
Selection Method:  Elected
Current Officeholder

Ruth Johnson.png
Name:  Ruth Johnson
Officeholder Party:  Republican
Assumed office:  2010
Compensation:  $112,410
Next election:  November 6, 2018
Last election:  November 4, 2014
Other Michigan Executive Offices
GovernorLieutenant GovernorSecretary of StateAttorney GeneralTreasurerAuditorSuperintendent of Public InstructionDirector of Agriculture and Rural DevelopmentInsurance CommissionerNatural Resources DirectorLabor DirectorPublic Service Commission
The Secretary of State for Michigan oversees elections in Michigan and is responsible for handling all administrative aspects of the ballot initiative process in the state.

The Michigan secretary of state is third in the governor of Michigan line of succession and acts in that capacity if both the office of governor and lieutenant governor of Michigan are vacant or if both are temporarily out of the state.

Current officeholder

The current officeholder is Ruth Johnson (R). She was elected in 2010, with her term expiring in 2014.


The state Constitution addresses the office of the Secretary of State in Article V, the Executive Department.

Under Article V, Section 3:

The single executives heading principal departments shall include a secretary of state, a state treasurer and an attorney general...


Here is a list of the standard qualifications necessary under Michigan State Law in order to be considered for the Office of Secretary of State:

  • To be eligible for the office of Secretary of State or Attorney General a person:
  • Must be a registered and qualified elector of the State of Michigan on the date he or she is nominated for the office
  • Must not be convicted of a violation of section 12a(1) of 1941 PA 370, MCL 38.412a or may not be eligible for a period of 20 years after conviction[1]


Michigan state government organizational chart
See also: States with gubernatorial term limits, State legislatures with term limits

The Secretary of State for Michigan is an elected position. Elections are held every four years. Term limits are detailed in Article V, Section 30 of the Michigan Constitution. The Secretary is limited to two terms in office. This amendment was made in 1992 and took effect in 1993.



See also: Michigan Secretary of State election, 2014
Secretary of State of Michigan, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngRuth Johnson Incumbent 53.5% 1,649,047
     Democratic Godfrey Dillard 42.9% 1,323,004
     Libertarian James Lewis 2% 61,112
     U.S. Taxpayer Robert Gale 1.1% 34,447
     Natural Law Jason Gatties 0.4% 13,185
Total Votes 3,080,795
Election Results via Michigan Department of State.


See also: Michigan Secretary of State election, 2010
2010 Race for Attorney General - General Election[2]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Republican Party Approveda Ruth Johnson 50.7%
     Democratic Party Jocelyn Benson 45.2%
     Libertarian Party Scotty Boman 1.8%
     U.S. Taxpayers Robert Gale 1.3%
     Green Party John A. La Pietra 1.0%
Total Votes 3,173,248


  • 2006 Race for Secretary of State - Republican Primary
    • Terri Lynn Land ran unopposed in this contest
2006 Race for Secretary of State - General Election[3]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Republican Party Approveda Terri Lynn Land 56.2%
     Democratic Party Carmella Sabaugh 42.0%
     Green Party Lynn Meadows 1.8%
Total Votes 3,721,910


  • 2002 Race for Secretary of State - Republican Primary
    • Terri Lynn Land ran unopposed in this contest
2002 Race for Secretary of State - General Election[4]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Republican Party Approveda Terri Lynn Land 55.0%
     Democratic Party Melvin Hollowell 43.0%
     Green Party Ray Ziarno 1.2%
     U.S. Taxpayers Charles Conces 0.8%
Total Votes 3,099,208


Vacancy appointments are addressed under Article V, Section 21.

Whenever the secretary of state's office is vacant the governor fills the position by appointment.


In Michigan, the secretary of state is not only responsible for elections like most other states' secretaries of state, but also oversees vehicle registration and the licensing of automobile drivers, similar to a Department of Motor Vehicles in other states. The Michigan secretary of state also oversees and regulates notaries public. Because of its drivers licensing and vehicle registration functions, the Michigan secretary of state has dozens of offices statewide and interacts with state residents more than any other organ of state government.

Campaign finance discipline

The Secretary of State Michigan is responsible for prosecuting all civil violations under the state's campaign finance laws. The first step in filing a complaint is to file with the Secretary of State as the Secretary of State is responsible for investigating all campaign finance law violations. It is up to the Secretary of State's Office to resolve all complaints first without any legal action.[5] If there is no resolution, the Secretary of State can render civil judgment against a campaign through an administrative hearing.[6]

All criminal law violations are prosecuted by the Attorney General of Michigan.[7]


Note: Ballotpedia's state executive officials project researches state official websites for information that describes the divisions (if any exist) of a state executive office. That information for the Michigan Secretary of State has not yet been added. After extensive research we were unable to identify any relevant information on state official websites. If you have any additional information about this office for inclusion on this section and/or page, please email us.

State budget

See also: Michigan state budget and finances

The Department of State's budget for the 2013 fiscal year was $219,548,900.[8]


See also: Compensation of state executive officers

The Michigan Constitution allows that the compensation for the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, and attorney general shall be provided by law, and is not to be altered during the term of office. Established under Article IV, Section 12 of the Michigan Constitution, the State Officers Compensation Commission was created to determine the salaries of select public officials. The seven-member, government appointed commission meets every two years. The commission may propose compensation increases, but may only propose a reduction in salary if the proposed amount is equal to or higher than the salary in place when the official took office. Once approved by the legislature, compensation is effective during the legislative session following the subsequent general election.[9]

Article V, Section 23 of the Michigan Constitution:

The governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state and attorney general shall each receive the compensation provided by law in full payment for all services performed and expenses incurred during his term of office. Such compensation shall not be changed during the term of office except as otherwise provided in this constitution.


In 2014, the secretary received a salary of $112,410, according to the Council of State Governments.[10]


In 2013, the secretary's salary was estimated at $112,410. [11]


In 2012, the Michigan Secretary of State was paid an estimated $124,900 according to the Council of State Governments.

Historical officeholders

There have been 42 Michigan Secretaries of State since 1835.[12]

List of Former Officeholders from 1835-Present
# Name Tenure Party
1 Kintzing Pritchette 1835-1838 Electiondot.png Democratic
2 Randolph Manning 1838-1840 Electiondot.png Democratic
3 Thomas Rowland 1840-1842
4 Robert P. Eldredge 1842-1846 Electiondot.png Democratic
5 Gideon O. Whittemore 1846-1848
6 George W. Peck 1848-1850 Electiondot.png Democratic
7 George R. Redfield 1850
8 Charles H. Taylor 1850-1853 Electiondot.png Democratic
9 William Graves 1853-1855 Electiondot.png Democratic
10 John McKinney 1855-1859 Ends.png Republican
11 Nelson G. Isbell 1859-1861 Ends.png Republican
12 James B. Porter 1861-1867 Ends.png Republican
13 Oliver L. Spaulding 1867-1871 Ends.png Republican
14 Daniel Striker 1871-1875 Ends.png Republican
15 Ebenezer G. D. Holden 1875-1879 Ends.png Republican
16 William Jenney 1879-1883 Ends.png Republican
17 Harry A. Conant 1883-1887 Ends.png Republican
18 Gilbert R. Osmun 1887-1891 Ends.png Republican
19 Daniel E. Soper 1891 Electiondot.png Democratic
20 Robert R. Blacker 1891-1893 Electiondot.png Democratic
21 John W. Jochim 1893-1895 Ends.png Republican
22 Washington Gardner 1894-1899 Ends.png Republican
23 Justus S. Stearns 1899-1901 Ends.png Republican
24 Fred M. Warner 1901-1905 Ends.png Republican
25 George A. Prescott 1905-1909 Ends.png Republican
26 Frederick C. Martindale 1909-1915 Ends.png Republican
27 Coleman C. Vaughan 1915-1921 Ends.png Republican
28 Charles J. DeLand 1921-1927 Ends.png Republican
29 John S. Haggerty 1927-1931 Ends.png Republican
30 Frank D. Fitzgerald 1931-1934 Ends.png Republican
31 Clarke W. Brown 1934-1935
32 Orville E. Atwood 1935-1937 Ends.png Republican
33 Leon D. Case 1937-1939 Electiondot.png Democratic
34 Harry F. Kelly 1939-1943 Ends.png Republican
35 Herman H. Dignan 1943-1947 Ends.png Republican
36 Fred M. Alger, Jr 1947-1953 Ends.png Republican
37 Owen J. Cleary 1953-1955 Ends.png Republican
38 James M. Hare 1955-1971 Electiondot.png Democratic
39 Richard H. Austin 1971-1995 Electiondot.png Democratic
40 Candice S. Miller 1995-2003 Ends.png Republican
41 Terri Lynn Land 2003-2011 Ends.png Republican
42 Ruth Johnson 2011- Ends.png Republican

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Contact Information


Capitol Address:
Michigan Department of State
7064 Crowner Drive
Lansing, MI 48918

Toll Free Phone: 1-888-767-6424
E-mail: secretary@michigan.gov

See also

External links

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