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Tag Archive | "Ruth Johnson"

Securing the Integrity of Michigan’s Elections


By Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson

This is my last year as your Secretary of State and I am proud of what we have done to promote voter registration and secure the integrity of our elections. 

Because of our efforts, USA Today has ranked Michigan number one in the nation for getting eligible people registered to vote. There are currently 7.4 million Michiganians registered to vote in 2018 and we are ranked in the top 25 percent in the nation for voter turnout. Over the last 7 years we have registered 4.9 million voters in Michigan. In the August 2018 Primary 2.1 million Michigan voters broke the turnout record with an increase of 12 percent since the 2014 election. 

It’s clear Michiganians are engaged in our elections process and I am proud that they have a secure elections system which guarantees that their vote counts on election day.

In my administration, we’ve worked on election integrity since day one. PEW rates Michigan among top states for conducting elections, thanks in large part to our local clerks. 

In just over seven years we have removed 1.2 million names from the Qualified Voter File including 604,532 who are deceased, 144, 303 who moved out of state, and 3,505 who were non-citizens.

We have invested $40 million to purchase state-of-the-art voting machines for all 83 Michigan counties and we have invested 11.2 million dollars in upgrades and security measures to make sure our current and ongoing elections process is secure. 

Michigan has become a model for other states for post-election audits and ballot validation through a hand count process. We have conducted 1,787 post-election audits. We have helped train 30,000 poll workers and we have expanded training for 1,520 local clerks. And we have replaced a 20-year-old qualified voter file with a more secure system. I am happy to add that we have guaranteed the use of paper ballots in Michigan’s elections, making sure we have a paper trail for every vote in our state. 

Our administration has set goals and we have met them. I am so pleased with our team and all the work we have accomplished in the last seven and a half years. 

Every Michiganian can feel confident in the security and integrity of our state’s elections system. It is a legacy that I am happy to leave behind as I finish out my second term as your Secretary of State. Thank you for putting your trust in me and my team with your vote. It has been an honor serving you. 

Ruth Johnson

Michigan Secretary of State 

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Michigan SOS recommendations to strengthen elections system


Five-point plan seeks to eliminate voter fraud vulnerabilities in states

N-VotingSecretary of State Ruth Johnson has sent a list of recommendations on strengthening the integrity of the elections system to Vice President Mike Pence and Michigan’s congressional delegation asking that the federal government provide state and local officials with the tools they need to ensure election integrity.

Pence is expected to head a special commission to investigate election issues.

“I believe the most critical parts of election administration are getting eligible citizens registered to vote and ensuring that only those individuals who are eligible to vote appear on the voter rolls,” Johnson said in her letter to Pence. “The United States as a whole must strive for the cleanest voter lists to eliminate vulnerabilities to voter fraud. To allow an ineligible person to cast a ballot is to disenfranchise an eligible citizen.”

Johnson has made election integrity and the accuracy of Michigan’s Qualified Voter File a top priority since she took office in 2011. Her department has removed 1.1 million ineligible people from the voter rolls, including 482,427 deceased voters, 104,126 who were registered in two states and 3,359 noncitizens. Her office also has performed 1,400 post-election audits and sends out a reminder to Michigan residents when they turn 18 years old and asks people who aren’t registered when they visit a Secretary of State office. Michigan has been named the top state for registering people to vote at motor-vehicle offices.

Her five recommendations:

Make Social Security Administration data available – The federal government should help states remove the names of deceased voters from the voter rolls. The Social Security Administration holds this data and it should be made available at no cost to all state election officials and updated at least once per month.

Remove those registered in more than one state – Congress, with the support of the administration, needs to pass a law that allows a voter to be efficiently removed at state motor vehicle offices from the voting rolls if that voter registers in their new state of residence. There is no process, system or law to prevent people from being registered in more than one state. This needs to be an automated system for all states. Former Congresswoman Candice Miller worked hard on a bill that would have accomplished this but it never passed.

Share noncitizen info – The federal government should allow states to verify noncitizens are not on the voter rolls. For years, the federal government required motor-vehicle agency clerks to ask customers—without regard to their citizenship—if they would like to register to vote. As a consequence, many noncitizens registered in error. Johnson met with Homeland Security officials in 2012 and asked for assistance in removing noncitizens from the voter list but never heard back or received any information or cooperation despite numerous attempts.

Create an election crime database – A comprehensive, national database or repository of election-related crimes needs to be created by the administration or Congress with the participation of all states. It would be invaluable to have a federal repository of election crimes categorized with information easily retrieved to help quantify and qualify problems. This will help identify vulnerabilities and fix them.

Require a voting paper trail – Voting machines or tabulators across the U.S. should be required to have some form of a verifiable paper trail that allows officials and citizens to review the results instead of having to blindly trust electronic devices. Voting machines or tabulators that don’t provide election officials with a paper record do not instill confidence in our elections systems and lack the accountability needed. Additionally, voting machines should not be connected to the internet.

A copy of Secretary Johnson’s letter to Vice President Pence is available online at http://www.michigan.gov/documents/sos/Letter_to_Vice_President_Pence_551502_7.pdf.

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Secretary Johnson announces next-generation voting equipment


N-New-voting-equipment-every-voice-counts-logoLocal clerks now will choose which system works best

City and township clerks across the state got some welcome news this week, when Secretary of State Ruth Johnson announced the approval of contracts for new next-generation voting equipment that all Michigan voters will use over at least the next decade.

The State Administrative Board approved 10-year contracts with three vendors for optical-scan voting systems that read and tabulate paper ballots marked by voters. Each of Michigan’s 83 county clerks now will consult with the city and township clerks in their county to select one of the three vendors.

“The new equipment offers voters all the speed and convenience of the latest ballot-scanning and election-night reporting technology while at the same time featuring a good, old-fashioned paper ballot that we can always go back and look at if we need to,” said Johnson, the state’s chief elections official.

N-New-Voting-pullquoteLisa Wright, the clerk in Spencer Township, who also worked as an election inspector in Spencer Township for 15 years, was happy to hear the news. “I think this is fantastic. The benefits far out-weigh the cost,” she remarked. “The current machines are way outdated.”

The three election equipment and software vendors that had contracts approved are Dominion Voting Systems, Election Systems and Software and Hart InterCivic, which all have systems that are being successfully used in other states.

“Michigan’s voting equipment has served us well over the past 12 years, but it is nearing the end of its expected lifespan and needs to be retired,” Johnson said. “I thank local clerks for their feedback as we discussed how to replace our aging equipment as well as the support of lawmakers and the governor.”

The new equipment, which includes ballot tabulators, accessible devices for use by voters with disabilities and election-management and reporting software, could be in use as early as the August 2017 primary local elections, depending on how quickly clerks are ready to implement them. All cities and townships across the state will have the new equipment by August 2018, which is the next scheduled statewide election.

The new systems all use digital optical scan technology, which includes notable improvements and increased ease of use for voters and election administrators. The systems allow for electronic storage of ballot images, a feature that will be useful during post-election audits. Improvements in the election management system software will save county and local clerks time and money in preparing for elections and providing election results. The options available for voters with disabilities are also greatly improved, and contractors will be required to continually assess and improve the systems, based on feedback. The contracts also cover service and maintenance.

A team of Michigan Bureau of Elections staff, local election officials and purchasing agents from the Secretary of State’s Office and the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget reviewed the proposals and equipment before recommending approval of a contract with three vendors. Elections staff sought extensive feedback about the systems from local election officials and advocates for Michigan voters with disabilities.

Solon Township clerk Mary Lou Poulsen said that County Elections Director, Susan de Steiguer, kept the local clerks of Kent County well informed during the long process of voting equipment replacement. “She served as an advisory member on the Michigan Bureau of Elections’ committee charged with the task of recommending replacement systems,” explained Poulsen. She said local clerks will get to try out the systems at a presentation in March.

“Fortunately, Solon Township has had good experience with the current tabulation equipment, with a few problems in the tabulation of Absent Voter ballots, where creases from being folded and mailed have caused jamming…(but) we never did have much luck with the Automark system that was designed for voters needing assistance in the polls. The machines were cumbersome, slow and jammed easily,” she explained.

Poulsen added that yes, she does think it is time to replace the equipment. “Twelve years is a quite a good lifespan for this type of equipment.”

But what does concern her is that they don’t yet know how much of the cost the township will have to cover. “That’s still quite a concern for us as we prepare next year’s budget,” she said.

Johnson said that the new equipment will be paid for with $30 million in federal Help America Vote Act money that the Secretary of State’s Office has saved for more than a decade, and with $10 million approved by the Legislature with the support of Gov. Snyder. This funding will cover most of the up-front cost for the new systems. Cities and townships will pay for the remaining cost, which will vary, depending on which vendor is selected, and for extended service and maintenance, which will begin in the 6th year of the contract period.

The equipment voters used in 2016 was rolled out in 2004 and 2005 when Michigan began using optical-scan voting systems statewide. Michigan is one of the only states with a substantial amount of federal funds still available to assist with the purchase of the next-generation voting systems.

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Did you do business with these two closed dealerships?


BUS-Sec-of-StateCall Secretary of State office for assistance

LANSING—Secretary of State Ruth Johnson today encouraged customers of two out-of-business west Michigan auto dealers to call her office so they can obtain proper title and registration for their vehicles.

Some customers of Wayland Motor Sales in Wayland and the Patriot Auto Group, Inc. in Hastings may have been issued improper temporary registrations or license plates as part of their vehicle transactions. Affected consumers risk having their vehicles impounded if stopped by law enforcement.

“Consumers who may have been victimized need to call to ensure they receive the correct ownership documents for their vehicle,” Johnson said. “Without proper title and registration, they will have difficulty proving they own their vehicle or getting a plate for the vehicle in the future.”

Buyers who received a vehicle from either dealership and have not received a title and registration are asked to call the department’s Office of Investigative Services at 517-335-1410 for assistance.

Secretary of State staff investigated both dealers and found a number of significant violations:

Wayland Motor Sales, 159 N. Main St. in Wayland. Secretary of State investigators found that the dealer poorly maintained records and repeatedly failed to apply for title and registration within the required 15 days of vehicle delivery. The licensee allegedly claimed that only four title transactions had not yet been processed but investigators discovered an additional 15 unprocessed tax, title and registration transactions from vehicle sales. The dealer had a former employee pretend to be a representative of Patriot Auto Sales Group, Inc. and purchase temporary registrations for customers. After customers drove off the lot, the dealership never submitted paperwork for them to receive their permanent title documents from the state. Johnson issued a summary suspension of the dealership.

Patriot Auto Sales Group, Inc., 490 S. M-37 Highway in Hastings. During the investigation of Wayland Motor Sales, the licensee for Patriot Auto Sales Group, Inc. allegedly denied knowing anything about the temporary registration purchases for Wayland Motor customers and submitted a close-out statement for the business. Investigators discovered that the dealership had seven unprocessed sales transactions, leaving customers without proper documentation for their vehicles. The dealer could not provide funds to pay for the tax, title and registration.

As part of her focus on strengthening her office’s consumer protection efforts, Johnson created a new office, which investigates and inspects automotive-related businesses. Already Investigative Services staff, acting on consumer complaints in many cases, have taken strong action against dozens of problem auto dealers and repair shops.

Posted in BusinessComments Off on Did you do business with these two closed dealerships?

Voter registration deadline for primary is Monday

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson reminds residents that they have until Monday, Jan. 30 to register in order to vote in the Feb. 28 presidential primary election.
“This year will present Michigan residents with important choices at the voting booth, whether they’re voting for president or local offices,” said Johnson, Michigan’s chief election officer. “I encourage everyone who is not yet registered to do so in order to participate in one of the foundations of our democracy, and that is casting a ballot.”
The polls will be open on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
To register, applicants must be at least 18 years old by Election Day and be U.S. citizens. Applicants must also be residents of Michigan and of the city or township in which they wish to register.
Voters may register by mail, at their county, city or township clerk’s office or by visiting any Secretary of State office. The mail-in form is available at www.Michigan.gov/elections. First-time voters who register by mail must vote in person in their first election, unless they hand-deliver the application to their local clerk, are 60 years old or older, are disabled or are eligible to vote under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.
To check their registration status, residents may visit the Michigan Voter Information Center at www.Michigan.gov/vote. Residents can also find information there on absentee voting, Michigan’s voter identification requirement, how to use voting equipment and how to contact their local clerk. In addition, they will find a map to their local polling place.
Voters who qualify may choose to cast an absentee ballot. As a registered voter, you may obtain an absentee ballot if you are:
*age 60 or older.
*physically unable to attend the polls without the assistance of another.
*expecting to be absent from the community in which you are registered for the entire time the polls will be open on Election Day.
*in jail awaiting arraignment or trial.
*unable to attend the polls due to religious reasons.
*appointed to work as an election inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence.
Those who wish to receive their absentee ballot by mail must submit their application by 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25. Absentee ballots can be obtained in person anytime through 4 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 27. Voters who request an absentee ballot in person on Monday, Feb. 27 must fill out the ballot in the clerk’s office. Emergency absentee ballots are available under certain conditions through 4 p.m. on Election Day.
The February election, like all elections, is open to all registered voters. Michigan does not require voters to register as a member or supporter of a political party, so voters can choose to participate in either the Democratic or Republican party primary. By state law, this is called a closed primary. When voters request an absentee ballot or arrive at the polls and fill out their application to vote, they must indicate in which party’s primary they wish to vote. They will then receive a ballot listing candidates for that party. That ballot will also contain any special election issues. Some communities will have additional items on the ballot aside from the presidential primary election. Sample ballots will be available online at www.Michigan.gov/vote. Note: The Aug. 7 primary will be an open primary, and voters will not be required to formally indicate their choice for a specific political party ballot.
Voters who wish only to vote in the special election may request a ballot that does not include presidential candidates.
As a reminder, voters will be asked to provide identification when at the polls on Election Day. They will be asked to present valid photo ID, such as a Michigan driver’s license or identification card. Anyone who does not have an acceptable form of photo ID or failed to bring it with them to the polls can still vote. They will be required to sign a brief affidavit stating that they’re not in possession of photo ID. Their ballots will be included with all others and counted on Election Day.
Voters who don’t have a Michigan driver’s license or identification card can show the following forms of photo ID, as long as they are current:
*Driver’s license or personal identification card issued by another state.
*Federal or state government-issued photo identification.
*U.S. passport.
*Military identification card with photo.
*Student identification with photo from a high school or an accredited institution of higher education, such as a college or university.
*Tribal identification card with photo.
Additional election information can be found at www.Michigan.gov/elections.

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