About Ruth Johnson
Michigan Secretary of State
Elected in 2010, Ruth Johnson has transformed the way the Michigan Secretary of State's office does business.
First, she reduced lines in branch offices by tripling online services with the launch of ExpressSOS.com. Today, customers can access this "no-wait" Secretary of State 24/7 from their home or office.
As Michigan's chief election officer, Ruth also fought for - and won - the most significant election reform measures in recent history. The new laws, part of her SECURE and FAIR ELECTIONS (SAFE) package, help ensure that only qualified, U.S. citizens cast a ballot on Election Day through use of a citizenship affirmation on ballot applications. The laws also close photo ID loopholes. They help voters "follow the money" contributed to candidates and parties. And the laws fight cheating - like preventing ballot coaching in nursing homes.
Ruth, the co-founder of OPERATION: OUR TROOPS COUNT, is also fighting to protect the vote of our overseas military members. In 2012, at the invitation of the U.S. military, she traveled to military installations and ships deployed in the Middle East to personally talk with troops stationed there about what she could do to help.
Other election improvements include the first-ever online training for Michigan's 30,000 poll workers, election night audits and expanded use of electronic poll books (used for voter check-in at the polls). She made Michigan's campaign records immediately accessible to the public through an iPhone/Android smartphone app, believed to be the first in the country.
Government, she believes, must be accountable to the people it serves. In 2003, the former state representative led investigations into blatant financial abuse by high-level public school officials where tax dollars were used for everything from limo rides and lavish dinners to golf and private flying lessons. Given rare subpoena power, Ruth's work helped send one official to jail for misappropriation of funds. To prevent further abuse and promote transparency, she also sponsored successful legislation to force intermediate school districts to post financial information about contracts, travel and salaries on their websites.
Finally, Ruth has made organ donation awareness a priority. Under her changes, Michigan's Organ Donor Registry grew by a record-setting one million people in the past two years.
Ruth also served as Oakland County's Clerk/Register of Deed. She cut more than $1 million in costs from the Oakland County budget and reduced her staff by 20 percent and successfully fought a 700-percent increase in fees proposed by the State. During her time as clerk, she won 14 NATIONAL AWARDS for improving customer service, saving money through the use of technology and promoting election integrity.
The award-winning programs include:
- An Absentee Ballot Tracker, which allows voters to track their ballots to ensure they reach their local clerk's office in time to be counted on Election Day.
- Project VOTE, which recycled gently used voting machines into schools to give kids a hands-on lesson in voting and democracy.
- A poll worker recruiting program.
- An instructional DVD for new voters.
- Online marriage license applications.
- An electronic filing system for court documents, as part of a partnership with the Oakland County Circuit Court.
- Online ordering of court documents.
- FRAUDCHECK to fight mortgage and deed fraud.
- A campaign to combine school elections with regular elections to save money and improve turnout. The move saved $1 million annually.
- A poll worker training DVD.
- A no-frills Mobile Office.
- ID Protection Service to streamline the removal of sensitive financial information from court files.
Prior to working as clerk, Ruth also served as an Oakland County commissioner, where she tackled such issues as putting trustee prisoners to work and instituting county performance audits
- Nov. 2010 - Elected as Michigan Secretary of State in November 2010
- 2008 - Re-elected Oakland County Clerk.
- 2006 - GOP nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Michigan as Dick DeVos' running mate
- 2004 - Elected Oakland County Clerk/Register of Deeds, serving as the Chief Elections Official for Michigan's second-largest county
- 1998 - Elected to the Michigan House of Representatives and was re-elected in 2000 and 2002. While in the House, Ruth served as Chairperson of the GOP Policy Committee and as Assistant Majority Whip.
- As committee chair, Ruth led investigations into the misappropriation of funds at the Oakland County Intermediate School District. The investigation later led to criminal charges against the superintendent.
- As a personal property rights advocate, Ruth chaired the House Land Use and Environment Committee and also served on Veteran Affairs and Homeland Security committees, Education, Health Policy and Transportation. While on the Land Use Committee, she sponsored market-driven open space preservation legislation that earned the support of the people and developers.
- 1988 - Elected to the Oakland County Board of Commissioners and served five terms, including six years as vice chairperson.
- Owned and operated a print shop.
- During graduate school, completed an internship with Oakland County Probate Court. Following graduation, worked at Oakland County Children's Village.
Ruth lives in Holly with her husband, Don Nanney, a small business owner, and their 13-year-old daughter, Emily. As a young woman, Ruth's family was very loving and supportive, but lived below the poverty line after her father passed away. She started working at age 13 to help her family make ends meet. She was the first girl to deliver the Pontiac Press, now called the Oakland Press. She is also believed to be the first woman to earn a motorcycle endorsement in Oakland County. She rides across parts of Michigan to promote Motorcycle Safety Month in May.
Graduate of Waterford Township High School who worked to put herself through Oakland Community College, Oakland University and Wayne State University, where she earned a Master's Degree, with honors.
- Member of the Oakland County, Michigan and National Republican Party
- Frequent speaker at local Optimist and Rotary Club events
- In 2004, Ruth Johnson earned the National Federation of Small Business Award
- Former member of the American Business Women's Association and various Chambers of Commerce
- Charter member of the Holly Area Optimists