Ruth Johnson criticizes secretary of state for failure to help local clerks

Ruth Johnson criticizes secretary of state for failure to help local clerks

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Ruth Johnson on Wednesday criticized the secretary of state for breaking her promise to help support local clerks struggling to keep up with new requirements under Proposal 2 and related laws passed last year.

“When you have 74 city and township clerks from across the political spectrum who sign a letter to the secretary of state that they are losing sleep, that’s a serious problem,” said Johnson, who herself served as secretary of state from 2011 to 2018. “Our local clerks do an enormous amount of work to conduct our elections, and it’s your job when you’re secretary of state to help and assist them and certainly not to hinder them.”

The clerks complained that they have been delayed in performing their jobs waiting on guidance from the state Bureau of Elections, which is overseen by the secretary of state. The clerks also pleaded with the secretary of state for additional support in meeting the burdensome new requirements.

“The Legislature gave $46 million to the Secretary of State’s Office to help implement these new laws,” said Johnson, R-Holly. “Where is the accountability for that money? Why isn’t it being used to help our clerks?

“I did not support many of these new laws, but the current secretary of state did, and now she’s breaking her commitment to our clerks and leaving them to fend for themselves. That’s just unacceptable to me.”

Johnson mentioned a Detroit News editorial about the letter dated Jan. 11 sent by clerks to the secretary of state and Bureau of Elections Director Jonathan Brater, which says in part, “We need you to be aware … of the anguish and astronomical expense this legislation has caused for clerks as we try to find ways to comply.” With up to more than 10,000 voters on their permanent absentee ballot lists and with some offices having only a couple of employees, the clerks requested immediate assistance from the Secretary of State’s Office.

“I agree wholeheartedly with The Detroit News,” Johnson said in her statement on the floor of the Senate. “‘It should not have taken pleas from desperate clerks to get her attention…This failure belongs to (the secretary of state’s) office. She needs to fix it immediately.’”


Editor’s note: Sen. Johnson’s Senate session remarks are available by clicking here or visiting

The above photograph is available by clicking on the image or by visiting

Photo caption: Sen. Ruth Johnson, R-Holly, criticizes the secretary of state during Senate session on Wednesday for breaking her promise to help support local clerks with the requirements under new election laws passed last year to enact Proposal 2 despite being given $46 million to help implement the laws.

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