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Ruth Johnson

Ruth Johnson
Secretary of State of Michigan
Assumed office
January 1, 2011
Governor Rick Snyder
Preceded by Terri Lynn Land
Personal details
Born (1955-01-08) January 8, 1955
Holly, Michigan, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Don Nanney
Alma mater Oakland University
Wayne State University
Website Government website

Ruth Johnson (born January 8, 1955[1]) is the current Secretary of State of Michigan. She is a former member of the Michigan House of Representatives and the 2006 Republican candidate for lieutenant governor as the running mate of Dick DeVos.


  • Background 1
  • 2012 Controversy 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Johnson, of Holly, a former public school teacher and small business owner, was clerk and register of deeds of Oakland County, a suburban area immediately north of Detroit with a population of more than one million, prior to her election as secretary of state in November 2010.[2][3] She was elected clerk of Oakland County in 2004 after defeating long-time incumbent William "Doc" Caddell in the Republican primary, and was the first woman clerk in Oakland County's 176-year history. From 1988 to 1998, she was a member of the Oakland County Board of Commissioners.

Johnson was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in 1998, and re-elected in 2000 and 2002; term limits made her ineligible for a fourth term. While in the House, she served as chairman of the Republican Policy Committee and as assistant majority whip.[1]

In 2010, she won the Republican nomination for secretary of state at the party's state convention. Her opponents were Paul Scott, Michelle McManus, Anne Norlander and Cameron Brown.

2012 Controversy

In the 2012 election cycle, Johnson added a checkbox to ballot application forms requiring that voters indicate whether or not they are a citizen.[4] Voters must complete an application to vote on election day before they can receive a ballot; Michigan requires photo identification.[5]

In making this requirement, Johnson claimed that 4,000 non-citizens vote in Michigan elections. A state analysis suggested that 54 ineligible voters, out of a sample of 58,000, had voted. Reportedly, four of the 1.2 million people voting in the GOP primary may not have been citizens.[6] However, Johnson has provided details about only two ineligible voters.[7]

In July, Governor Rick Snyder (R) vetoed a law which would have mandated the citizenship checkbox.[8][9][10] Nevertheless, Johnson included the checkbox as part of the August primary ballot application form. Post-primary news reports suggested 4-in-10 calls to voter election hotlines were related to the citizenship box.[11] Other news reports indicated that citizens had been turned away from the polls or were confused.[12][13]

A voting rights coalition filed suit in federal court on September 17, 2012, charging that the citizenship check box was "unconstitutional and a violation of federal and state law." The complaint noted that the Johnson's office was forced to issue a directive on the primary election day that clarified "that the box was unenforceable."[14] A hearing has been set for Friday, October 5.[15]

Several municipalities have publicly stated that they will not include this question in the November election.[16][17][18]


  1. ^ a b Michigan Manual 2001-2002, p. 232
  2. ^ "Michigan Live, Nov. 2011"
  3. ^ "2012 Official Michigan Election Results"
  4. ^ "Michigan Live, Aug 2012"
  5. ^ "Michigan Secretary of State Guide to Voter Identification at the Polls"
  6. ^ "Detroit News, Sept. 19, 2012"
  7. ^ "Detroit Free Press, Sept. 23, 2012"
  8. ^ "Vote Smart, Michigan SB 803"
  9. ^ "Michigan Live, July 2012"
  10. ^ "NY Times, July 4, 2012"
  11. ^ "Detroit News, Sept. 9, 2012"
  12. ^ "CBS Detroit, Aug. 7, 2012"
  13. ^ "Detroit Free Press, Aug. 7, 2012"
  14. ^ "ACLU Complaint, Sept. 17, 2012"
  15. ^ "CBS Detroit, Sept. 29, 2012"
  16. ^ "CBS Detroit, Sept. 15, 2012"
  17. ^ "Michigan Live, Sept. 2012"
  18. ^ "Detroit News, Sept. 14, 2012"

External links

  • Oakland County Clerk / Register of Deeds bio of Johnson
  • Ruth Johnson for Secretary of State Website
Political offices
Preceded by
Terri Lynn Land
Secretary of State of Michigan
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