Endorsement: Johnson's experience, qualifications make her best choice for Secretary of State
The Saginaw News / Flint Journal Endorse Ruth Johnson
Of the many duties with which Michigan’s Secretary of State is charged, oversight of elections is perhaps the most important.
In a state that has an impossible 102.5 percent voter registration rate, it is all the more important for Michigan to have a person in that office who will root out fraud and abuses, and ensure that the true will of the people prevails.
We see Republican Ruth Johnson as that person.
She is running against Democrat Jocelyn Benson, a Wayne State University law professor, for the seat being vacated by term-limited Terri Lynn Land.
Three independent party candidates also are on the ballot.
Benson’s main point in her run for this office is the integrity of the elections process. She’s interviewed secretaries of state across the nation for a book on best practices.
But Johnson has the practical experience.
Johnson is a former state representative who currently serves as the Oakland County Clerk and Register of Deeds.
She is intelligent and focused, a straight-shooter and self-professed reformer, who, as a state representative, used subpoena power to expose massive corruption within the Oakland County Intermediate School District.
As Oakland County clerk/register she said she has made it her mission to get the best possible services for the best price for those residing in the state’s second largest county.
Just as has occurred in government agencies around the state, her office has been forced to do more with less. She has had to cut her staff by 20 percent and has trimmed $1 million from her office’s budget.
She proudly points to the 14 national awards her office has earned despite those cuts.
Johnson said cross-training has allowed the workload to be spread more evenly among remaining staff, and increasing the number of services offered online has improved convenience for consumers and reduced lines and wait times at the office.
Frugality certainly will be necessary at the state level as Michigan faces an estimated $1 billion to $1.5 billion deficit.
Frugality isn’t all Johnson has to offer.
If she is elected to office, she proposes creating an elections crimes unit comprised of people from the Attorney General’s office, the Secretary of State, prosecutors and law enforcement to ensure cases don’t fall through the cracks.
She said she would crack down on voter intimidation and other kinds of disenfranchisement that keep people from the polls. She said the state needs well-trained, bipartisan poll workers. Oakland County has a DVD that educates poll workers about what they can and cannot do. She said such a training video should be used statewide.
Johnson also supports requiring voters to present photo identification to guard against fraud, and opposes online voter registration because of the potential for fraud.
Meanwhile, Benson is a proponent of online voter registration. Benson also supports early voting, which Johnson opposes because she said not all clerk offices in the state have the funding to allow that, which would mean only voters living in wealthier areas who have the option.
Benson obviously is bright and well-intentioned. Indeed, it is not that she is unqualified for the post, rather that Johnson is more qualified and more experienced.
We see Johnson as a tireless fighter who will do everything within her power to protect the integrity of the ballot box and use her office’s diminishing resources the most prudently. She has our support Nov. 2.