Secretary Johnson Names New Elections Director

New Director Sally Williams oversaw statewide purchases of election equipment

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson today announced Sally Williams, a long-time Department of State staff person, as the next director of the Michigan Bureau of Elections.

Williams now serves as the bureau’s Election Liaison Division director, which assists county and local clerks in their election administration duties, and oversees training of local election officials. Before that, she served in the executive offices of Secretaries Candice Miller and Terri Lynn Land as the assistant to the chief of staff and as a project manager for major departmental initiatives.

“Sally’s breadth of experience with Michigan elections and her established relationship with local clerks make her an excellent choice to lead the Bureau of Elections,” said Johnson, the state’s chief election official. “She will ensure Michigan voters can continue to have full confidence in the accuracy and integrity of our elections process. Already in her current position, she has spearheaded improvements in a number of areas, including a focus on improving election worker training.”

A Michigan State University graduate and 30-year employee of the department, Williams led the efforts of the Bureau of Elections when the state reviewed and selected vendors to supply the new election equipment that will be in use statewide by August 2018. She also directed the bureau’s efforts to better train local election officials and their workers, and conduct post-election audits, as well as the launch of the Michigan Voter Information Center at

“I’m honored to be Michigan’s next elections director,” said Williams, who will be the first female elections director since the position was created in the 1950s. “We have a great team in the Bureau of Elections, and Chris Thomas has prepared us well. I look forward to continuing my work with local clerks so Michigan voters have their voices heard on Election Day.”

Williams replaces Christopher M. Thomas, who retires this week after 36 years as director. The Bureau of Elections, which reports to the secretary of state, accepts and reviews candidate and ballot question petition filings; conducts statewide instructional programs for clerks and precinct workers; assists county and local election officials with their administrative duties; and oversees the operation of the Qualified Voter File. It also administers Michigan’s Campaign Finance Act, the Lobby Registration Act and the Office of the Great Seal, which commissions notaries public, among other duties.