Michigan Secretary of State

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Department of State
Seal of Michigan Secretary of State.svg
Department overview
Formed October 6, 1835 (1835-10-06)
Type State department
Jurisdiction State of Michigan
Headquarters Lansing, Michigan
Department executive Ruth Johnson, Secretary of State
Key document Michigan Constitution
Website www.michigan.gov/sos

The Michigan Department of State is administered by the Secretary of State, who is elected on a partisan ballot for a term of four years in gubernatorial elections.

The Secretary of State is the third-ranking official in the State of Michigan.[1] As the name implies, the officeholder was originally responsible for much of state government, but now the duties are similar to those of the other 46 secretaries of states across the United States. In the event that the Governor and Lieutenant Governor are both absent from the state, or the offices are concurrently vacant for some other reason, the secretary of state serves as acting governor.

In Michigan, the Secretary of State is not only responsible for elections, but also oversees vehicle registration and the licensing of automobile drivers, similar to a motor vehicles regulator in other states. The officeholder also oversees and regulates notaries public and is the keeper of the Great Seal of Michigan.[2][3]

Under state law, the Secretary of State must have at least one office in each of Michigan's 83 counties.[4]

The current Secretary of State is Ruth Johnson.

Department organization[edit]

Secretary of State office, Pittsfield Township

Customer Services Administration[edit]

The Customer Services Administration (CSA) is divided into the Bureau of Branch Office Services, the Driver and Vehicle Records Division, the Office of Customer Services, the Department of State Information Center, the Program Procedures Section, and the Program Support Section. The Bureau of Branch Office Services operates a network of branch offices providing driver’s licensing, vehicle titling and registration, and voter registration services to the citizens of Michigan. The Driver and Vehicle Records Division manages driver and vehicle records maintenance activities. The Office of Customer Services oversees the Renewal-By-Mail and Internet Renewal, as well as the Uniform Commercial Code. The office serves International Registration Plan vehicle owners and Michigan residents who are out of state. The Department of State Information Center is the point of contact for many citizens seeking information about Secretary of State programs and services. The center also oversees driver and vehicle record sales and the distribution of the annual jury listing to Michigan counties.[2]

Department Services Administration[edit]

The Department Services Administration (DSA) provides coordination and support to the agency in the areas of administration, finance, technology, project management, human resources, employee development, and occupancy management. It facilitates the strategic vision, direction, and support for the Secretary of State’s high-priority programs to ensure continued innovation, modernization, and effective use of resources. The DSA includes the Office of Technology and Project Services, the Office of Human Resources, the Office of Occupancy Services, the Accounting Services Division, the Budget Services Division, and the department’s Business Application Modernization initiative.[2]

Legal and Regulatory Services Administration[edit]

The Legal and Regulatory Services Administration (LRSA) is divided into the Bureau of Information Security, the Bureau of Regulatory Services, and the Legal Policy and Procedures Section. The LRSA provides research and counsel to the Secretary of State on statutes and rules administered.[2]


Secretary of State of Michigan
Seal of Michigan Secretary of State.svg
Ruth Johnson

since January 1, 2011
Michigan Department of State
Appointer Popular election
Term length 4 Years, Renewable Once
Inaugural holder Kintzing Pritchette
Formation 1837
Website www.michigan.gov/sos/

The Secretary of State is elected for a four-year term, concurrent with that of the governor. Candidates are nominated at partisan conventions.[5] Under the state Constitution, the Secretary of State is restricted to two four-year terms in that office.

The Secretary of State receives the courtesy title of The Honorable (abbreviated to Hon. or Hon'ble) for life.

Michigan Secretaries of State
Officeholder[6] Term of Service
Kintzing Pritchette 1835–1838
Randolph Manning 1838–1840
Thomas Rowland 1840–1842
Robert P. Eldredge 1842–1846
Gideon O. Whittemore 1846–1848
George W. Peck 1848–1850
George R. Redfield 1850
Charles H. Taylor 1850–1852
William Graves 1853–1854
John McKinney 1855–1858
Nelson G. Isbell 1859–1860
James B. Porter 1861–1866
Oliver L. Spaulding 1867–1870
Daniel Striker 1871–1874
Ebenezer G. D. Holden 1875–1878
William Jenney 1879–1882
Harry A. Conant 1883–1886
Gilbert R. Osmun 1887–1890
Daniel E. Soper 1891
Robert R. Blacker 1891–1892
John W. Jochim 1893–1894
Washington Gardner 1894–1898
Justus S. Stearns 1899–1900
Fred M. Warner 1901–1904
George A. Prescott 1905–1908
Frederick C. Martindale 1909–1914
Coleman C. Vaughan 1915–1920
Charles J. DeLand 1921–1926
John S. Haggerty 1927–1930
Frank D. Fitzgerald 1931–1934
Clarke W. Brown 1934
Orville E. Atwood 1935–1936
Leon D. Case 1937, 1938
Harry F. Kelly 1939–1942
Herman H. Dignan 1943–1946
Fred M. Alger, Jr. 1947–1952
Owen J. Cleary 1953–1954
James M. Hare 1955–1971
Richard H. Austin 1971-1994
Candice S. Miller 1995-2003
Terri Lynn Land 2003-2011
Ruth Johnson 2011–present

Source: Michigan Manual 2003-2004, Chapter IV, Former Officials of Michigan