MI Secretary of State

Secretary Benson Names Jonathan Brater Director of Elections

directorbraterLANSING – Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has named Jonathan Brater as the incoming Director of the Michigan Bureau of Elections.

Brater will begin Jan. 2, following the retirement of current director Sally Williams. Brater has worked alongside Williams for the past 11 months as he focused on elections while serving as the Department of State’s Legal Policy Director. He previously served as counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program, a non-partisan nonprofit, where his work focused on modernizing elections in partnership with secretaries of state around the country. A nationally recognized expert on voter registration law and policy, he graduated cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School, where he served as executive editor of the Michigan Law Review.

“Throughout his career Jonathan has demonstrated his commitment to secure, non-partisan election administration,” said Benson. “His deep expertise of elections practice nationally and in Michigan will be of tremendous benefit to the state.”

Williams also praised Brater: “Jonathan has worked with us tirelessly to ensure Michigan’s elections are executed effectively and without bias. He will have a great team of similarly dedicated employees, and I know he will be an excellent elections director.”

Brater, an Ann Arbor native, was selected after an open application process that began shortly after Williams announced her retirement last month. She will stay on through the end of the year to ensure a smooth transition. Williams served as Director of Elections for two years, succeeding Chris Thomas, who held the position for 36 years, and currently chairs the Department of State’s Election Modernization Advisory Committee.

“I feel fortunate for the opportunity to have worked with both Sally and Chris, and humbled by the opportunity to continue their legacy,” said Brater. “I have spent my career seeking to strengthen democracy for all people, and I will continue that work for the people of Michigan.”

Snowbirds Reminded to Renew Early

Renewal options are varied and convenient

LANSING – Residents heading south for the winter are reminded to renew their driver’s licenses and license plates before leaving Michigan.

People can renew plates for individually owned or leased cars, pickup trucks, vans and motorcycles up to six months before they expire. They can renew early online at ExpressSOS.com or at a Secretary of State office – even if they have not received their renewal information in the mail. License plate tabs will arrive by mail within two weeks. Company-owned passenger plates cannot be renewed early.

Driver’s licenses (for drivers ages 21 and older) and state ID cards may be renewed up to a year early. Motorists also have the option of obtaining a REAL ID-compliant license or state ID card at no extra cost when renewing. Certain paperwork and a visit to a branch is required, so drivers are encouraged to check Michigan.gov/REALID or call the Department of State Information Center at 888-SOS-MICH (767-6424) for more details.

Customers visiting a branch office should consider scheduling an appointment. Appointments are reserved online at Michigan.gov/SOSAppointments and help ensure that visits are 30 minutes or less. Customers select the day, time and branch office location that best fits their schedule. They should plan on arriving 10 minutes early the day of their appointment and will be called to the counter by a service representative when their time has arrived.

Secretary Benson Names Advisory Members for Task Force on Women in Sports

Leading experts to advise on task force’s work, recommendations

LANSING – In October, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced the advisory members for the Michigan Task Force on Women in Sports. These 16 national leaders will advise the Task Force on its ongoing work and inform its final recommendations to the Governor.

taskforcelogoGovernor Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order creating the task force in June, 47 years after the passage of Title IX. The executive order named Benson as chair of the task force. With the addition of the advisory members, the task force brings together local and national leaders to develop strategies to support and promote opportunities in Michigan for girls and women in sports.

“I am grateful that many of our country’s leaders in advancing women in sports will lend their expertise and experience to inform our work, placing Michigan in the forefront nationally for ensuring a level playing field for all,” Benson said.

Secretary Benson and Nonpartisan Statewide Alliance in Grand Rapids Announce Online Application Process for New Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission

13-member panel will draw fair and impartial electoral maps for Legislature, Congress

GRAND RAPIDS – Leaders of a nonpartisan statewide alliance joined with Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson today in Grand Rapids to announce that people can now apply online to serve on the new Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, beginning Michigan’s effort as one of the first states in the nation to initiate a citizen-led redistricting process.

“Last fall, millions of Michiganders voted to give citizens the power to draw our legislative districts, and now it is time to apply to be one of those citizens,” Benson said during a news conference at Grand Rapids Community College. “This is a first-of-its-kind opportunity for Michigan voters to draw fair and impartial electoral maps for our state. I hope every Michigander considers applying to participate.”

Last November, Michigan voters decisively supported the “Voters Not Politicians” constitutional amendment that makes a commission of 13 randomly selected citizens – not elected politicians, consultants or lobbyists –responsible for drawing district lines for the Michigan Senate, Michigan House of Representatives and U.S. Congress. All eligible Michigan voters are encouraged to apply to serve on the commission, which does not require any special skills or expertise. The application, available at RedistrictingMichigan.org, takes about 15 minutes to complete. Commissioners will be compensated about $40,000 for their service.

“As a longtime advocate for independent citizen redistricting, I am committed to ensuring this process is implemented with transparency so voters can have faith that the entire process is truly independent and citizen-led,” Benson said.

Among the state and local leaders who said their organizations will help inform and promote wide public participation in the commission from communities across Michigan were Sean Huizing, a Grand Rapids Community College student volunteer and civic engagement liaison on Michigan’s new Collegiate Student Advisory Task Force; Joel Pagel, vice president for external affairs for the Grand Valley State University Student Senate; Martha Gonzalez-Cortes, vice president of community investment for the Kalamazoo Community Foundation; Anthony J. Minghine, deputy executive director and COO of the Michigan Municipal League; Josh Westgate, board of directors for the Michigan Townships Association; and Jamie Lyons-Eddy, director of campaigns and programs for Voters Not Politicians.

In addition to offering the online application at RedistrictingMichigan.org, the state will hold application workshops, coordinate a statewide grassroots education push to promote awareness of the application, and mail tens of thousands of applications to randomly selected Michigan registered voters by Jan. 1, 2020, inviting them to apply to serve on the commission. The randomly selected 13-member redistricting commission will consist of four members who affiliate with the Republican Party, four members who affiliate with the Democratic Party and five members who are not affiliated with either major party.

The workshops, which will provide citizens with step-by-step instructions to fill out the applications and an opportunity to have them notarized, are tentatively scheduled for the following dates and locations:

·        Dec. 3 in Traverse City
·        Dec. 6 in Marquette

The state constitution requires each completed application to be signed in the presence of a notary. Starting Dec. 1, all Michigan Secretary of State offices will offer free notary services for the purposes of this application. In addition, city, county and township clerk offices throughout the state have offered to provide notary services for free for the redistricting commission application, or will provide applicants with information on where and how to get their application notarized free of charge. A list of Michigan notaries providing the notary service for free on this application can be found at Michigan.gov/FreeNotary.

“As one of the students selected to serve on the Secretary of State Collegiate Student Advisory Task Force, I believe it is important that young people learn about the new Michigan redistricting process and consider applying to serve,” Huizing said. “Our generation is the future of Michigan’s democracy, so I hope fellow students will consider applying to the Commission.”

GRCC’s Huizing is one of 33 Michigan students representing institution of higher education on the Collegiate Student Advisory Task Force. The members represent 31 communities across Michigan and 23 community colleges, colleges and universities statewide. Their recommendations to increase engagement among young people in Michigan will be submitted to Benson in late November. In 2020, the students also will work with the Secretary of State’s Office as civic engagement liaisons to their respective campuses.

“It is imperative that student leaders on all of Michigan’s campuses make their classmates aware that every applicant who is eligible and submits a complete, notarized application will have a chance of being randomly selected to serve on the Redistricting Commission and help determine the future of Michigan’s democracy,” GVSU’s Pagel said.

Every 10 years following the U.S. Census, district lines for political offices must be redrawn in states across the country to accurately reflect their population. Under Michigan’s new constitutional provision, voters charged the Secretary of State with administering the application and selection process of commissioners, as well as providing administrative support as the “Secretary without a vote” of the commission once it is formed.

The randomly selected commission of citizens will each earn approximately $40,000 as compensation for their service. Commission members also will have the authority to choose whether to reimburse their travel and other related expenses as part of their duties.

The commission will convene in the fall of 2020 and will be required to enact district maps no later than Nov. 1, 2021. They will set meeting dates and other commitments within those parameters upon convening.

Work hours and schedule will vary depending on the week and be determined by the commissioners. Some weeks, the time commitment may be limited to a few hours, while others may be much more intensive. The work will vary throughout the year to include public meetings, at least 15 constitutionally required public hearings, and other discussions the commission finds necessary to fulfill its service to the state.

Any registered and eligible voter in the state may apply to serve on the commission. However, the constitutional amendment outlines certain groups of people who are not eligible to serve on the commission, including partisan political officials, candidates, registered lobbyist agents, and their employees or close relatives. Lying on the application is a criminal offense, punishable under penalty of perjury.

Applicants do not need to have any prior knowledge or experience in drawing legislative districts. Commissioners will be able to hire experts and consultants to assist with their work. Once the commission is selected, there will be a training and education session to prepare commissioners for their work. The random selection process will use accepted statistical weighting methods to ensure that the semi-finalist candidate pool mirrors the geographic and demographic makeup of the state.

To ensure transparency, the Michigan Department of State has engaged the Rehmann Group, a third-party, independent accounting firm, to administer the actual random selection using statewide data from the American Community Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau.

The initial months of the commissioners’ work will involve collaborating with each other to establish a committee structure and procedures, hiring staff and outside experts, and developing a plan for citizen engagement. The work will later involve efforts to gather the input and advice of other citizens as maps are being drawn and considered. Similarly, it will involve reviewing map submissions from the public and taking them into account. Ultimately, a majority of commissioners – including at least two who affiliate with the Democratic Party, two who affiliate with the Republican Party, and two who do not affiliate with either party – will need to vote for the final districts for state House, state Senate and U.S. congressional districts in Michigan.

Important dates:

Jan. 1, 2020 – Applications to serve on the commission will be mailed to at least 10,000 Michigan registered voters at random.

June 1, 2020 – Deadline for accepting applications.

July 1, 2020 – Deadline for Department of State to post 200 randomly selected semi-finalists online and to provide the list to legislative leadership for one month of review.

Aug. 1, 2020 – Deadline for legislative leaders (Speaker of the House, House Minority Leader, Senate Majority Leader and Senate Minority Leader) to exercise up to 5 strikes each and return the list of finalists to the Department of State.

Sept. 1, 2020 – Deadline for randomly selecting the 13 commissioners.

Oct. 15, 2020 – Commissioners must hold first meeting by this date.

Nov. 1, 2021 – Deadline for the commission to adopt a redistricting plan for Michigan State House, Michigan State Senate and U.S. Congressional Districts.

Dec. 31, 2021 – Maps become law and take effect for the 2022 election cycle.

For more information about the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, please visit: RedistrictingMichigan.org.

Secretary Benson Announces Steps to Promote College-age Voter Participation, Initiatives to Resolve Lawsuit

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, in June, announced steps to promote participation among college-age voters. The steps are part of a broader voter engagement initiative and will help bring a mutually agreeable resolution to a lawsuit brought on behalf of student voting groups last year.

“Going away to school shouldn’t complicate a student’s ability to vote,” Benson said. “Michigan has made great strides recently in improving access for all voters, and this is just the beginning of our work to ensure college-age voters have the information and opportunities they need to vote as engaged citizens.”

“Young voters are the future of our state and our democracy, and we need their voices at the table,” Benson said. “I’m committed to removing barriers and also encouraging college-age voter participation with several additional initiatives that we will be announcing in the months and years ahead.”

The Department of State and Bureau of Elections will be rolling out a broad voter engagement initiative prior to the 2020 election. The initial steps announced today are focused on student and college-age voters and include:
Creating a website dedicated to providing voting information and tools for college students and first-time voters and promoting the resource on social media.
Encouraging local clerks in communities with colleges and universities to engage in student outreach through voter registration drives and other activities.
Updating department manuals and training materials to reflect a new emphasis on college student voters.
Sending letters each September to the Michigan Association of State Universities and non-member colleges and universities with helpful information for students.
Deploying the Secretary of State’s Mobile Office, as in past years but with greater frequency, to provide opportunities for voter registration on college and university campuses and encouraging friendly competition among institutions related to voter registration efforts.

These steps help resolve a lawsuit filed by College Democrats at the University of Michigan and other student organizations. The groups filed a lawsuit against the previous secretary of state in August 2018, challenging the requirement that a Michigan voter with a Michigan driver’s license have the same address for both registration and licensing, and another requirement that first-time voters must vote in person if they registered through the mail or a third party registration drive.

After the lawsuit was filed, Michigan voters adopted Proposal 3 in 2018. Among other changes, the proposal guaranteed all registered Michigan voters the right to vote absentee without giving a reason. Earlier this year, the secretary of state determined that the “must vote in person” requirement is no longer enforceable under the constitutional amendment. This change, in addition to other new voting options such as same-day registration, lessen the burden on student voters. The secretary of state will be emphasizing these new options as part of her efforts to promote student voting engagement.

Secretary Benson Announces Modernized Voter Registration on National Voter Registration Day

Automatic, online processes to increase access to democracy

LANSING – On September 24, 2019, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced that automatic voter registration officially has launched in Michigan and online voter registration will be available following the November 2019 election.

Automatic voter registration requires Secretary of State branch office staff to ensure that when Michigan citizens apply for or update their driver’s license or personal ID cards, they automatically are registered to vote unless they are ineligible or don’t want to be registered.

“Making voter registration automatic for eligible citizens means more Michigan residents will have access to participating in our democracy,” Benson said. “I look forward to this both strengthening our democracy and ultimately helping transactions move more quickly in branch offices by eliminating extra paperwork.”

Michigan began implementing automatic voter registration for driver’s license and personal ID transactions in person and online Sept. 9. The Department of State will be adding automatic voter registration for mail-based transactions in the coming months. Following the November 2019 election, the department also will launch an online portal for eligible citizens to register to vote at any time.

Preliminary data suggests automatic voter registration already is increasing voter registration in Michigan. Through the first two weeks of implementation, Michigan processed 46,527 registration transactions, an average of 4,653 per business day. By comparison, in the first two full weeks of September 2017, Michigan processed 40,022 transactions, or about 4,002 per business day.

The data is preliminary and includes only weekday transactions completed at branch offices and online; the Department of State will be releasing additional data reports after fuller data analysis can be conducted.

In the November 2018 election, Michigan voters overwhelmingly approved the Promote the Vote constitutional amendment, which contained measures to make voting more accessible and secure, including a provision that requires the automatic registration of citizens to vote at branch offices unless the citizen declines.

Driver’s license and personal ID card applications now have an “opt-out” box, which an eligible applicant must check if he or she doesn’t want to be registered to vote. As with the prior voter registration system at Secretary of State offices, only U.S. citizens are permitted to register.

Michigan joins 17 other states and the District of Columbia in enacting automatic voter registration to modernize their elections systems.

Secretary of State Offices Collecting Food Donations at Branch Offices as Part of Harvest Gathering Campaign

Financial donations accepted at FeedMichigan.org

LANSING –  On October 2, 2019, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced that all Secretary of State branch offices will be collecting nonperishable food items as part of the annual Harvest Gathering campaign.

The campaign began on Wednesday, Oct. 2, and runs through Friday, Nov. 15.

“Secretary of State offices have been participating in the Harvest Gathering for 20 years, and in that time, our generous customers and staff have donated more than 155 tons of food and $42,000,” Benson said. “Because donations stay in the area in which they are collected, every food or personal care item you drop off at a Secretary of State branch office will assist someone in need within your community – a family, a veteran, a senior citizen, a homeless neighbor.”

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson Settles ‘Ballot Selfie’ Case

Agreement allows voters to photograph own ballot; other restrictions remain in place

May 8, 2019 – Subject to court approval, the secretary of state today settled a federal lawsuit challenging Michigan’s restrictions on ballot photography, sometimes known as “ballot selfies.”

Under the settlement, in which both parties to the suit agreed to dismiss the case, voters will be allowed to take a photograph of their own ballot but only while in the voting booth. The agreement doesn’t affect other prohibitions on photography in the area where voting is occurring or sharing ballot images within 100 feet from the polling place (the buffer zone where electioneering is prohibited).

Secretary Benson to Expand Appointment Option to Every Secretary of State Branch Office

Move is a significant step toward achieving 30-minute guarantee for all Michigan residents

MACKINAC ISLAND – May 30, 2019 — Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson today announced that the Michigan Department of State is expanding the option for Michigan residents to schedule appointments to every branch office across the state.

“No one in Michigan should wait more than 30 minutes to renew their license, register their vehicle or register to vote,” Benson said. “With our statewide expansion of appointments, every Michigan resident will have the option to make an appointment at their local branch office and get in and out of a branch office in less than 30 minutes.”

The Department of State currently offers appointments in 43 branches. The appointment option will be expanded to the remaining 88 branches in phases beginning in mid-June. Customers also will be able to make appointments to complete interstate commercial truck registrations at the International Registration Plan office in Dimondale.

“As I visited our 131 branch offices during my first 100 days in office, every resident I met who had the option to make an appointment ahead of time was able to get in and out of the branch office in less than 30 minutes. But our limited appointment options weren’t available to all residents,” Benson said. “This important change will ensure we are able to serve more residents effectively and efficiently throughout our state. It’s the first of several steps we intend to take in the months and years ahead as we modernize how the Department of State provides services for Michigan’s residents.”

As the expansion is phased in, Michigan residents can schedule appointments at their convenience by selecting the day, time and location they would like to visit at Michigan.gov/SOSAppointments.

Secretary Benson Launches RedistrictingMichigan.org Web Portal for Citizens Redistricting Commission

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has launched RedistrictingMichigan.org, a new web portal to provide citizens with information and resources on the voter-approved ballot initiative that changes how Michigan’s legislative and congressional districts are drawn.

Last November, Michigan voters approved changes to the state’s constitution to establish a 13-member commission of citizens who will have exclusive authority to adopt district boundaries for the Michigan Senate, Michigan House of Representatives and U.S. Congress every 10 years.

“In establishing an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, the people of Michigan sent a clear message: They want citizens in charge of drawing our state’s legislative districts,” Benson said. “For the commission to succeed, continued citizen involvement, engagement and education is critical. This web page will provide one reliable source of information for citizens and, later this year, will provide a portal for citizens to apply to serve on the commission.”

The web page provides resources, including answers to frequently asked questions, a guide for citizens and a timeline for implementation. Registered voters interested in serving on the commission will be able to apply through the web page later this year. That application will be available in multiple formats and will be developed through an open and transparent process to be launched later this year.

Under the new constitutional provision, voters assigned the secretary of state the responsibility of administering the application and selection process of commissioners, as well as providing administrative support to the commission once formed.

District lines for political offices in Michigan, as in other states, must be redrawn every 10 years following the U.S. Census. The deadline for the commission to adopt a redistricting plan for Michigan’s districts is Nov. 1, 2021.

Secretary Benson Releases Report on Observations, Recommendations from Tour of 131 Branch Offices

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson today released a report on her observations and recommendations upon completing a tour of all 131 secretary of state branch offices in Michigan.

At a news conference at Cadillac Place in Detroit, Benson spoke about visiting all branch offices in Michigan’s 83 counties and talking with customers and employees about how to improve service and shorten wait times for Michigan residents.

“Every Michigan resident deserves efficient access to state services,” Benson said. “We are ready and determined to rebuild a system of delivering services that is modern and effective. Michigan’s hard-working residents and our employees deserve no less.”

Benson’s recommendations fall under these headings:
• Upgrade online services and communications.
• Provide targeted support to the highest volume customers.
• Revamp self-service kiosks to ensure reliable service.
• Review internal policies and pursue legislative reforms.
• Create a culture of support for staff.
• Improve the physical environment of offices.
• Expand features that work and restructure those that don’t.
• Look for opportunities to continuously streamline operations.
• Encourage customer and employee feedback.

Renew Your Watercraft Registration

Don’t forget to renew your watercraft registration with Michigan Secretary of State
New online renewal system offers convenience, choice

Michigan watercraft owners choosing to renew their registration online are using a new system that offers enhancements and options designed to make renewing as seamless as possible, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said.

“Fast, dependable service is our pledge to Michiganders,” Benson said. “We know you’d rather spend your time on the water, so we’re exploring ways to improve the renewal process.”

CARS e-Services, at ExpressSOS.com, was unveiled in February and replaces the Department of State’s 1960s mainframe computer system. The new system provides a customer-focused model that aligns to how people expect to interact with the Secretary of State’s Office. For example, each customer’s information is kept in a central record, unlike the old mainframe, which stored data across multiple servers.

CARS e-Services provides three options for renewing watercraft:
• An online express option for quick renewals.
• An online authenticated renewal process, which allows customers to access their customer record and conduct other transactions along with their watercraft renewal. They also may print a copy of their renewed registration.
• A new option to renew at a Secretary of State self-service kiosk. Self-service kiosks are found at the busier Secretary of State offices and at select retail and city buildings. Check the Branch Office Locator at Michigan.gov/SOS for kiosk locations.

The use of online renewal is gaining in popularity. In fiscal year 2018, which ran from Oct. 1, 2017 to Sept. 30, 2018, about 57,000 watercraft registrations were renewed online, compared to about 53,000 from the previous year. As customers become more comfortable with the benefits of online renewal, the number of transactions is expected to continue to rise.

There are about 797,000 current watercraft registrations on file with the Secretary of State’s Office. More than 252,000 watercraft renewal notices were mailed this month. Watercraft registrations are renewed every three years and expire on March 31 of the third year.

All watercraft, including those on privately owned lakes and waterways, must be registered, except for the following:
• Watercraft 16 feet or less, propelled by oars or paddles that aren’t used for rental or commercial purposes.
• Nonmotorized canoes and kayaks not used for rental or commercial purposes.
• Rafts, surfboards, sailboards and swim floats, regardless of length.
• Watercraft registered in another state and used only temporarily in Michigan.

Secretary Benson Welcomes Era of No-reason Mail-in Voting in Michigan

Convenient option available to every registered voter

No-reason mail-in voting has launched in Michigan, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced today, explaining it will make voting easier for people across the state.

“If you want to fill out your ballot at home, you should be able to do so. And if you want to avoid the stress of finding time to get to the polls on Election Day, you should be able to do that, too,” Benson said. “The era of no-reason mail-in voting has begun in Michigan, and I’m excited about the potential it has to engage more of our fellow citizens in our democracy.”

She called no-reason mail-in voting a common-sense reform that can save administrative costs and headaches, increase turnout and reduce lines during elections. The reform also removes Michigan from the ranks of the relatively few states that haven’t offered voters the ability to mail-in their vote for no reason.

Benson held a news conference with Flint Township Clerk Kathy Funk at township offices on the first day registered voters can request a mail-in ballot for the May 7 election. They were joined by other local officials and two area residents – a small business owner and an employee of a business with nontraditional hours – who couldn’t previously use a mail-in ballot but now will have that convenient option in their busy lives.

On Nov. 6, Michigan voters overwhelmingly approved Proposal 3, which contained many measures to make voting more accessible and secure, including a provision that allows voters to obtain a mail-in ballot without providing a reason. Before that, voters in Michigan could only request a mail-in ballot if they could meet one of six criteria as an “absent voter,” such as being 60 years or older or expecting to be out of town on Election Day.

“No-reason mail-in voting is a convenience that will help many people at election time,” Benson said. “Last November, the people of this state decided to make voting easier, and their change for the better begins today.”

Benson encouraged residents to visit Michigan.gov/Vote, where they can download a mail-in ballot application and find a wealth of election-related information.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson Takes Steps to Strengthen Voter File Accuracy

Chief election officer requests membership in ERIC

As chief election officer, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson today announced she has taken steps to ensure the accuracy of Michigan’s voter file by formally requesting membership in the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC).

“In November, Michigan voters made it clear: Like me, they believe it should be easier to vote and harder to cheat,” Benson said today. “We’re taking the first step toward achieving that goal by ensuring the accuracy of our voter registration file.”

Benson said once Michigan is a member of ERIC – a self-governing, multistate partnership dedicated to the accuracy of the nation’s voter files – the state will have unprecedented insight into the integrity of its voter rolls thanks to the collaboration of participating states, key federal databases and the use of sophisticated and secure data-matching technology.

“In terms of election security, this is an important first step,” she said.

Established in 2012, ERIC uses encrypted voter information from partnering states along with death records from the Social Security Administration to red flag deceased voters, duplicate voter registrations, voters who move and eligible voters not yet registered so states can reach out to them. ERIC also provides resources previously unavailable to the state of Michigan for maintaining the accuracy of its voter list, including the availability of encrypted driver information from other states and data from the National Change of Address database maintained by the U.S. Postal Service.

States already participating in ERIC are Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Also participating is the District of Columbia.

Benson, who has a long track record of supporting Michigan’s membership in ERIC, reiterated her support in June. The partnership’s effectiveness is well documented. Between 2013 and 2017, ERIC identified nearly 10 million out-of-date voter records for its members. Currently, Michigan has no system in place to verify the accuracy of its voter file against those of other states.

Secretary Benson Convenes Election Modernization Advisory Committee to Advance Election Reforms

Consortium of local election officials, voting rights advocates, experts to provide counsel on Proposal 3 voter reforms

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced today an Election Modernization Advisory Committee to advise her administration and the Department of State’s Bureau of Elections on the implementation of Proposal 3 and further election reforms.

Members of the committee include county, city and township clerks from across the state, Michigan-based voting rights advocates, and local and national election experts.

“The results of last November’s election are clear: Michigan voters want to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat,” Benson said. “I am grateful to the local and national experts who have agreed to come together to ensure we do just that, modernizing our elections, applying best practices and making Michigan a national model for clean, efficient and secure elections.”

Passed overwhelmingly by voters in November, Proposal 3 involves significant changes to Michigan’s election laws, including the institution of absentee voting for any reason, automatic voter registration and the ability to register up to and on Election Day.

The advisory committee will provide input, suggestions and feedback on the execution of these reforms. Other topics slated for consultation by the committee include the launch of online voter registration passed by the Legislature last year along with poll worker recruitment training, as well as solutions to current challenges involving elections.

Benson has named former Michigan Director of Elections Christopher Thomas to lead the newly formed advisory committee. The committee will be staffed and facilitated by the Michigan Bureau of Elections and other staff from the Secretary of State’s office.

Secretary Benson Shares Ideas on Restoring Public Trust in State Government

More announcements planned for Sunshine Week

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson today shared her ideas on how to make Michigan a leader in transparency and accountability and restore public trust in state government.

According to the Center for Public Integrity, the state has the weakest transparency and ethics laws in the nation.

“It’s important for citizens to simply have all the information they need and deserve so they can hold all of their elected officials accountable,” Benson said.

Benson announced her ideas (see overview document) on improving transparency while speaking at the Michigan Nonprofit Association’s Nonprofit Legislative Day in Lansing. She then provided testimony including those proposals to the House Committee on Elections and Ethics.

Benson wants to work with members of the Legislature toward full disclosure of all money in politics through stronger reporting requirements and by closing loopholes and exceptions. Among her other ideas, she is interested in expanding the Freedom of Information Act so it applies to the governor and Legislature, requiring personal financial disclosures from elected officials and instituting a two-year “cooling off” period between leaving office as a legislator and working as a lobbyist. Benson plans to have conversations with residents at town hall meetings across the state to hear their feedback on transparency and other issues.

Secretary Benson, League of Women Voters Reach Agreement to Settle Redistricting Case

Plaintiffs agree to drop all claims challenging U.S. Congressional, state Senate districts as part of agreement

January 25, 2019 – Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson today reached an agreement with the League of Women Voters regarding their claims challenging the constitutionality of the 2011 redistricting of Michigan’s state legislative and U.S. Congressional districts.

As part of the agreement, the plaintiffs agreed to drop all claims challenging the constitutionality of the Michigan state Senate and U.S. Congressional districts, as well as claims against four state House districts. The proposed settlement concludes that 11 of the 110 state House districts were drawn in violation of the U.S. Constitution. The agreement gives the current state Legislature the opportunity to redraw the districts for submission to the court.

“As the state’s chief election officer, I have a responsibility to ensure our elections operate in a manner that is fair, accessible and in compliance with the constitutional mandate of one person, one vote.” Benson said. “I believe today’s settlement strikes a balance between recognizing the unconstitutionality of the 2011 districting maps while reaching a remedy that is limited in scope and impact given the length of time these districts have been in place. Because the Congressional and state Senate maps will not be changed, and the state House map only minimally changed, the remedy we have proposed to the court is one that is likely more limited in scope than that which could have emerged from a trial that the state could likely lose. It strikes an important balance between limiting disruption to the current maps while acknowledging the harm done to voters through attempts to rig the outcomes of elections through partisan gerrymandering.”

Judges Eric Clay, Denise Page Hood and Gordon Quist of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan Southern Division will rule on the consent decree.

The 11 state House districts that would be redrawn under the agreement are 24th, 32nd, 51st, 55th, 60th, 63rd, 76th, 91st, 92nd, 94th and 95th. The new districts would use the same population data relied upon in the maps drawn in 2011, which remain the most recent complete Census data. They will be in place only for the 2020 elections, after which new districts will be drawn by the Citizens Redistricting Commission that voters enacted into law via ballot petition in November 2018.

The League of Women Voters sued the state of Michigan on Dec. 22, 2017, challenging the constitutionality of the 2011 redistricting process, saying the districts had been drawn with partisan intent in violation of the Equal Protection Clause and First Amendment of the Constitution. On Jan. 2, Benson, as the new secretary of state, became the named defendant in the lawsuit.

“I am very glad that moving forward we will have in place an independent citizen redistricting commission to draw future Congressional and legislative maps following the 2021 census,” Benson said. “As a longtime advocate of citizen involvement in redistricting as a solution to end efforts to rig districts to encourage particular partisan outcomes, I will now turn to implementing the commission in a way that is transparent, nonpartisan and effectively engages citizens across the state in the important task of drawing legislative districts that comply with state and federal law.”

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson Names Additional Members of Leadership Team

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson today announced several additional members of her team, who will help achieve her goals at the Department of State for the people of Michigan.

Notable among the appointees are Heaster Wheeler, former assistant county executive for Wayne County and executive director of the Detroit branch of the NAACP, to serve as assistant secretary of state; Jonathan Brater, former democracy counsel with New York University’s Brennan Center, to help advise the department’s work to modernize elections; and Winnie Liao, a national technology leader and renowned innovator, to serve as chief operations officer for the department.

“These exceptionally talented individuals bring a wealth of leadership experience to my administration and personal commitments to success,” Benson said. “The staff at the department has been very welcoming and are ready to work together with additional team members to achieve our ambitious goals on behalf of the citizens of Michigan.”

Secretary of State Upgrading Decades-old Computer System for Vehicle Records During Presidents Day Weekend Closure

The Michigan Department of State is replacing its decades-old vehicle records system with CARS, a modern computer system to better serve millions of customers. CARS arrives Feb. 19.

CARS will enhance services for Michigan residents by adding new online options, improving existing online and kiosk services, and giving staff in Secretary of State branch offices a more efficient tool to look up vehicle information and process transactions.

During the upgrade, SOS offices, online services and auto business transactions will be taken offline and unavailable from 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, to 9 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19 (Presidents Day weekend). Self-service kiosks will be taken offline in phases beginning Friday, Feb. 8. See the schedule: http://bit.ly/2HXjlRD.

The seven Super Centers usually open Saturday will be closed Saturday, Feb. 16, for the system-wide conversion of CARS. All branches will be closed on Presidents Day (Monday, Feb. 18). For more details, visit www.Michigan.gov/SOS.

Michigan Organ Donor Registry Tops 5 Million

64 percent of Michigan adults have joined registry

More than 5 million Michigan residents now have joined the Michigan Organ Donor Registry, making a commitment to give the gift of life, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson announced today.

“Every name is a beacon of hope for the more than 3,200 people in Michigan awaiting a life-changing transplant,” Johnson said. “I want to thank everyone who has taken a moment to make this pledge. However, we will continue to encourage people to sign up on the registry as the need continues to grow.”

“This milestone reflects the generosity of Michigan residents who want to help others by becoming organ, eye and tissue donors,” said Dorrie Dils, CEO of Gift of Life Michigan, the state’s federally designated organ and tissue recovery program. “We are proud to collaborate with the Secretary of State and other donation partners who make these life-saving, life-improving gifts possible.”

When Johnson took office in 2011, 27 percent of eligible Michigan residents had signed up. She made expanding the organ donor rolls a priority and directed staff to start asking customers if they wanted to sign up and began promoting organ donor registration throughout her branch offices.

“Eversight is thrilled more than 64 percent of Michigan residents have made the decision to join the donor registry,” said David Bosch, president of Eversight, the state’s cornea and eye tissue recovery program. “We applaud Secretary Johnson and her staff on their admirable work to make this exciting milestone a reality.”

Every donor has the ability to save up to eight lives through organ donation and improve up to 75 more through cornea and tissue donation.

Anyone can join the Michigan Organ Donor Registry, regardless of age or medical history. Go to www.Michigan.gov/sos, call 866-500-5801 or visit any Secretary of State office to sign up. About 85 percent of people who sign up do so through Secretary of State offices.

For more information on organ, eye and tissue donation, visit www.giftoflifemichigan.org or www.eversightvision.org. To access some of the Secretary of State’s most popular services, visit www.ExpressSOS.com.

Sec. Johnson Reminds Motorists to ‘Move Over’ for Emergency Vehicles

headerSecretary of State Ruth Johnson today released a public service announcement calling on motorists to follow Michigan’s “Move Over” law that protects the lives of emergency responders who have stopped their vehicle on a roadway.

“Twenty-four hours each day, emergency personnel are on duty working to protect us from harm,” Johnson said. “We ask motorists to return the favor—and follow the law—by moving over a lane when they see police and fire vehicles, ambulances, tow trucks or other emergency responders stopped on the road or the edge of the road.”

Johnson, Michigan State Police Director Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue and several emergency responders are featured in the video, which begins with state police footage of a tow truck driver narrowly escaping with his life as a car smashes into his vehicle.

Michigan’s Emergency Vehicle Caution Law, which went into effect in 2001, requires that when drivers see a stationary emergency vehicle or tow truck pulled over with its flashing, rotating or oscillating lights on, passing motorists must move over at least one lane or two vehicle widths. If moving over cannot be accomplished, motorists must slow down and pass with caution. Violators face fines or jail.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the No. 1 cause of law enforcement deaths is traffic incidents. According to a report cited by the Pew Center, each year about six to eight fire rescue and emergency medical service personnel are killed in or near moving traffic, as are 10 to 12 police officers. The Emergency Responder Safety Institute estimates that a tow operator in killed every six days in the United States while providing roadside or towing services.

The video can be viewed on YouTube and downloaded online.

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson Receives National Award for Promoting Organ Donation

Nearly 65 percent of Michigan adults have joined Organ Donor Registry

secofstateawarded

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson receives award from Gift of Life Michigan CEO Dorrie Dils

The national organ donation advocacy group Donate Life America has awarded Secretary of State Ruth Johnson its DMV Innovation Award for her and her office’s efforts to promote organ donation and encourage people to join the state’s donor registry, she announced today.

Johnson praised and thanked Secretary of State staff today during the announcement at the Flint Area SUPER!Center for their tireless efforts that resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of people on the donor registry. The secretary was joined by Gift of Life Michigan CEO Dorrie Dils; John Gleason, the Genesee County clerk and a donation recipient; and representatives from Eversight, the state’s cornea and eye tissue recovery program.

“I’m so proud of our team and grateful for this honor,” Johnson said. “We’re seeing miracles happen every day with organ, tissue and cornea donation thanks to these great people. It’s been a privilege working with them.”

Johnson made huge changes in the way the Secretary of State’s Office approached organ donation when she took office in 2011. Working with her partners, she created an advisory task force, put organ donor reminders on widely-used forms, enlisted social media and directed employees to ask customers if they wanted to sign up, doubling the percentage of names on the list. About 85 percent of people who sign up do so through the Secretary of State’s Office.

Since that time, the registry has grown from 27 percent of Michigan adults in 2011 to more than 64 percent to date, with the registry now topping 5 million names. The Secretary of State’s Flint Super!Center, host site for today’s event, added more than 49,000 people to the registry during that timeframe, mostly from Oakland and Genesee counties.

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson Addresses Trends and Concerns for ‘Boomers’ on Bikes

Returning riders are encouraged to take a class for safety

Noting their disproportionate involvement in crashes, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson today encouraged baby boomers who ride a motorcycle or are thinking about it to take a returning-rider safety course, even if they rode in their younger days.

“Riders in their 50s and 60s who are getting back into motorcycling are strongly encouraged to take one of the rider education refresher courses we offer,” Johnson said. “People joke about never forgetting how to ride a bike, but operating a motorcycle is different. It requires constant practice to develop the judgment and skills necessary to identify and avoid hazardous situations on the road.”

Boomers interested in refreshing their riding skills should look into the department’s Returning Rider Basic Rider Course and the Advanced Rider Course. The department also offers a class for three-wheeled motorcycles, and a Basic Rider Course designed for those who are new to or wish to review the fundamentals of motorcycling.

Johnson noted that male motorcycle riders aged 50-69 were involved in 34.1 percent of all two-vehicle crashes involving a motorcycle and 33.6 percent of all single-vehicle crashes (crashes just involving the motorcyclist). Female riders aged 40-59 are at the greatest risk of being involved in either a multiple vehicle or single vehicle crash.

“Our goal is to keep everyone safe on the road,” she added. “Motorcyclists should take a rider education safety course, always wear the proper gear and make sure they have the motorcycle endorsement before they ride.”

Visit www.michigan.gov/motorcycling for a list of motorcycle safety training programs across the state. To learn more about motorcycling and the Michigan Rider Education Program, go to www.michigan.gov/mi-rep.

More information about motorcycling in Michigan is available on the Motorcycle Fact Sheet.

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has prepared a video with a motorcycle safety message.

SOS Johnson: Michigan Upgrades Election Security for 2018

sosjohnsonNew voting machines, voter file ready for use; $11 million will further strengthen elections system

As local clerks finalize ballots for the statewide primary, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson today detailed how new voting equipment, $11 million in new federal security grants and the extensive preparations her office has made will better protect Michigan’s elections system for the 2018 election cycle.

“Most importantly, every voter across Michigan still will use a good, old-fashioned paper ballot to mark their choices,” Johnson said three weeks before the August primary ballots will be sent out. “Then they’ll feed the ballot into a new next-generation voting machine designed with security in mind. But buying all new election equipment isn’t all we’ve done to safeguard our election system.”

“We carefully reviewed and improved our systems, and we’ll be putting $11 million of federal security grants toward further strengthening them against attack. Plus, we’re adding required cybersecurity training to our local clerk education programs.”

The Aug. 7 primary will be the first statewide election in which every city and township will use all new voting equipment that includes optical-scan ballot tabulators, accessible voting devices for voters with disabilities, and election-management and reporting software.

New upgrades include:

• Next-generation voting equipment that offers added security features over the older systems, including stronger multi-factor access controls, advanced data encryption and better physical security of tabulator access points with locks and seals. Tabulators are not connected to the internet.

The state paid for the equipment with $10 million that Johnson pushed the Legislature to approve and $30 million in federal money that Johnson and her predecessor saved for more than a decade. Cities and townships have had no upfront costs for the new equipment. Michigan was one of the only states that saved a substantial amount of federal funds to assist with the purchase of the next-generation voting systems, and one of the only states able to implement new voting systems statewide for use in the 2018 election cycle.

• $11.2 million in election security grants that Michigan will receive this year to upgrade elections systems. Bureau of Elections staff is finalizing how the money will be spent, but the plan will include a strong focus on security assessment – including comprehensive tests and other cybersecurity measures at the state, county and local level. The state must contribute $500,000 to receive $10.7 million that Congress approved this year for Michigan. The money is in addition to the extensive cybersecurity efforts already employed by the state of Michigan, which constantly monitors systems for suspicious activity and protects against cyberattacks.

• An upgraded Qualified Voter File system used by the Bureau of Elections and local clerks to maintain the state’s registered voter list and other election-related data. Besides being an improved, modern system that will help clerks perform their work more efficiently and effectively, the new system features enhanced security built in from the ground up over its 20-year-old predecessor.

• Strengthened relations with state and federal law-enforcement and homeland-security agencies. The Bureau of Elections can report any suspicious activity it detects — cyber or otherwise — with the Michigan Intelligence Operations Center, which shares threat information among local, state and federal agencies, including the FBI, Michigan State Police, Michigan National Guard and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The Department of State has a staff person who participates with center. Additionally, Homeland Security officials now regularly share pertinent information, tools and services with state elections officials to assist them in thoroughly assessing and securing all aspects of their systems. Secretary of State staff have also participated in briefings for election administrators from federal homeland security officials.

• Expanded cybersecurity training for local election officials. Bureau of Elections staff are now also implementing a continuous multi-course training curriculum for clerks on cybersecurity best practices.

• Post-election audits that now include ballot validation. Bureau of Elections and county clerks now include ballot validation in the post-election audit process. After this November’s general election, ballot tabulation validation will be completed for the first time for a statewide election, involving every county with some randomly selected precincts. This process will verify that the voting machines properly tabulated ballots. The previous process, in place since 2013, already verified the successful completion of appropriate pre-election programming and testing steps. Post-election audits, which were started by Johnson, verify local election workers are performing their duties correctly and help target training programs to better assist election workers.

In addition to the new equipment and initiatives, Michigan elections will continue to feature long-standing accuracy and integrity practices that include:

• A detailed, thorough canvassing and certification process that each county performs after each election for up to two weeks. During the canvass, each precinct’s results are scrutinized, and ballot and voter numbers are cross-checked to make sure everything adds up. Each county’s canvassing board, which certifies election results, is made up of two Republicans and two Democrats. In addition, state and federal races are then canvassed and certified by the bipartisan Board of State Canvassers.

• Voting machine public testing. Every ballot tabulator used in each of the state’s 4,800 precincts is tested before every election in a public forum to verify it will tabulate ballots accurately, and then is physically secured until Election Day.

• Election precincts open to the public and representatives of political parties and other groups to observe voting and ensure officials are performing their duties properly.

• Continuous voter-list maintenance efforts. the Bureau of Elections and local clerks regularly scrub the voter list to remove ineligible voters. During Johnson’s time in office, The Bureau of Elections has removed 1.2 million ineligible voters, including 134,000 who have moved out of state and registered in a new state, 563,000 who died and 3,512 who were noncitizens.

Love Motorcycles? Share Your Passion with Others!

Instructors needed for Michigan’s motorcycle safety classes

Michigan is looking for men and women, who love motorcycles and working with people, to teach others how to ride.

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, who oversees the state’s Michigan Rider Education Program, says that becoming a motorcycle safety class instructor, or “RiderCoach,” provides benefits beyond the pay.

“Safe motorcycling requires that you learn how to use good judgment and the information on the road to assess risks and react appropriately,” Johnson said. “It’s a complex skill set that’s important to practice every time you ride. As instructors, there is nothing more satisfying than working with a class of students to develop that habit, knowing that you are helping them take an important step to becoming safe, life-long riders.”

The pay rate for RiderCoaches varies from $24 – $35 per hour, depending on location. RiderCoach applicants must be experienced motorcyclists who enjoy working with people and possess good riding and communications skills.

To become a certified Motorcycle Safety Foundation RiderCoach, you must meet the following criteria:

• Be at least 18 years old
• Have passed a Basic Rider Course (beginning motorcycle class) within the last year
• Have held a motorcycle endorsement for at least one year
• Possess a good driving record
• Pass a criminal background check
• Obtain a sponsorship with an approved public or private motorcycle safety course provider (providers are located throughout the state)
• Successfully complete the RiderCoach Prep Course

The fee for a RiderCoach Prep Course is $75 and includes the materials required for the course. RiderCoach candidates will spend approximately 80 hours in the classroom and on the motorcycle riding range. Participants must attend every session, pass a riding-skills test and a knowledge test. They will learn how to effectively instruct and evaluate students in the classroom and on the range and will be required to teach a basic motorcycle safety class under the tutelage of an experienced instructor.

Two RiderCoach Prep Courses are being offered in August.

August 13-16 at Macomb Community College – South Campus
August 17-19 at Schoolcraft College – Radcliff Campus
August 20 at Schoolcraft College – Livonia Campus

This eight-day course will be led by RiderCoach Trainer Vince Consiglio. For more information, contact Renee Waraksa at waraksar@macomb.edu.

August 9-12 and August 16-19 at the west campus of Lansing Community College in Lansing. For more information about this eight-day course, contact RiderCoach Trainer Steve Lick at Steve.Lick@gmail.com.

In 2017, nearly 11,500 people enrolled in a Michigan motorcycle safety class. In addition to the Basic Rider Course, the state offers a Returning Rider Basic Rider Course, an Advance Rider Course and a 3-Wheel Basic Rider Course.

“We have a great need for motorcycle RiderCoaches,” Johnson said. “The pay is good, the work is rewarding, and you get to mingle with like-minded motorcycle enthusiasts. What more could you ask for?”

For more information about the Michigan Rider Education Program, visit www.michigan.gov/mi-rep. For a list of public and private motorcycle safety sponsors, go to www.michigan.gov/motorcycling.

Secretary Johnson Praises Senate Passage of Online Voter Registration Legislation

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson praised members of the Michigan Senate for passing legislation today that will provide residents with the accurate and secure option of online voter registration.

“Michigan has the ability to accurately and securely receive registration applications online and authenticate voters against their driver or state ID information on file,” Johnson said. “I commend members of the Senate for working to offer our citizens an easy way to register to vote through the use of modern technology.”

Johnson has worked with legislators to make online voter registration a reality. Throughout her tenure as Secretary of State, she has sought ways to use proven, safe and secure technology to improve and streamline Secretary of State services.

The online services at ExpressSOS.com allow customers to complete just about any transaction online. Launched in 2011, the site offers such conveniences as change of address, duplicate vehicle titles, and vehicle registration and driver’s license renewals over the internet. In Fiscal Year 2017, ExpressSOS.com processed more than 2.2 million transactions online.

New Grace Period for License Plate Tabs

Secretary Johnson applauds new 30-day grace period for placing tabs on license plates
Motorists can hop online to ExpressSOS.com right up to last minute

On March 14, 2018, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson applauded legislators for passing and Gov. Rick Snyder for signing legislation that gives millions of Michigan motorists a 30-day grace period to affix their tab after renewing their vehicle’s registration.

House Bill 4535, sponsored by Rep. Curt VanderWall of Ludington, was signed into law yesterday and assigned as Public Act 64 of 2018 today with immediate effect.

“Thanks to this new law, if you renew online or by mail at the last minute, you don’t have to worry about getting a ticket for not having received your tab yet,” Johnson said. “The grace period means you can renew from home up to the deadline. So hop online, not in line, to ExpressSOS.com with Print‘N Go technology. It’s painless!”

Secretary Johnson Testifies in Support of Online Voter Registration

Accurate and secure, online registration technology meets elections’ administration challenges of the 21st Century

rjtestifyingSecretary of State Ruth Johnson today thanked the Michigan House and Senate election committees for their support of online voter registration application, an initiative she has long championed.

“Thirty-eight states offer online voter registration tools,” Johnson said. “Michigan is uniquely positioned to do the same because the Secretary of State’s Office oversees both driver licensing and elections, which provides a secure database that makes it easy to authenticate a voter’s address, identification and signature against their driver or state ID information.”

Bill sponsors include Reps. Julie Calley and Michael Webber, and Sens. Judy Emmons, Goeff Hansen, Dave Hildebrand, Mike Nofs and Jim Stamas.

Secretary Johnson Suspends Ignition Interlock Device Manufacturer

Devices violated state standards, risked public safety

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson announced today that Alcohol Detection Systems, a national supplier of ignition interlock devices, has been summarily suspended and may no longer supply breath alcohol ignition interlock devices in Michigan.

The devices manufactured by ADS, which supplies Waterford-based Michigan Interlock, failed to require the necessary start-up tests and periodic retests as mandated by Michigan law. The company also failed to report violations in which drivers were able to start or continue driving without providing a breath sample.

Ignition interlock devices require a breath sample before the user may start a vehicle. Random breath tests also are required while the vehicle is in operation to ensure the driver remains alcohol-free. The device measures the driver’s bodily alcohol content (BAC) and keeps the vehicle from starting if the device detects a BAC of 0.025 or higher.

About 1,500 residents have an ADS ignition interlock device. Any driver with an ADS device will need to contact Michigan Interlock to have the device removed at no cost and have a new device installed by one of the five approved manufacturers. The new device must be installed within seven days after the ADS device is removed.

An ignition interlock device is required as a condition of a restricted driver’s license for drivers with a first conviction for Operating with a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.17 or more and for habitual offenders who have any of the following combination of alcohol or controlled substance related driving convictions:

•  Two or more convictions within seven years.
•  Three or more convictions within 10 years.

“We take our responsibility to safeguard ignition interlock customers and the public seriously,” Johnson said. “We must be certain that ignition interlock users are being tested as required before and while they drive to ensure public safety on the roadways. Interlock manufacturers that do not comply with state laws will not be allowed to operate in Michigan.”

Information about the other ignition interlock manufacturers in Michigan is available on the Secretary of State website. Customers with an ADS ignition interlock system installed by Michigan Interlock who have questions may contact the Michigan Department of State at 888-767-6424.

“Driver Appeal Integrated System” Launched

Secretary Johnson launches new system to make it easier to navigate license appeal hearings
New system brings simplicity, efficiency for users

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson today announced that procedures that must be completed for a driver’s license appeal hearing just became much more streamlined thanks to technology.

The “Driver Appeal Integrated System” (DAIS), an online application process for driver’s license appeal hearings, is the latest customer service innovation being rolled out by the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office.

The system will help attorneys, prosecutors and law enforcement officers who are part of the Administrative Hearings process. Driver’s license hearings are scheduled when motorists wish to appeal the denial or revocation of their license.

“This new system brings easy access and efficiency to a complex process,” Johnson said. “The new system not only makes the request for a hearing simpler, but it allows staff to securely transfer hearing files, orders and transcripts electronically, which is a great time-saver.”

The new system provides the following advantages:

Hearing requests, payments, required documents and transcripts are provided and submitted electronically.
All hearing notifications, including hearing dates, adjournments, withdrawals and notice of final hearing decisions are sent via email.
Circuit court petitions and orders regarding license appeal matters can be handled through the new system.

Customers who want to request a hearing are provided access to the online system and create their own secure login account. Individuals who already have a MiLogin account can request access to the new system.

Attorneys, prosecutors and law enforcement officers have their own login for creating an account.

Customers submitting hearing requests through the new system are asked to refrain from also mailing or faxing in the same request. An email will be sent to customers confirming that their electronic request was received.

“I applaud the great work of our Administrative Hearings Section for implementing this innovative system, and thank the state’s Department of Technology, Management and Budget for their efforts as well,” Johnson said. “Customers and staff will quickly see the benefits of the new system over a more, traditional paper-based system.”

Secretary Johnson on Driver Responsibility Fee Elimination

Secretary Johnson: Driver Responsibility Fee elimination great day for drivers

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson issued the following statement about Gov. Snyder signing legislation to fully eliminate Driver Responsibility Fees:

“What a great day for Michigan drivers,” Johnson said. “I want to thank Gov. Snyder, all the lawmakers who voted for this and all the work my staff has put in over the years to get rid of this automatic double-penalty that was hurting hard-working Michigan families. Too many Michigan drivers lost their license because of Driver Responsibility Fees that didn’t promote public safety but did make it harder for people to pick up their kids from school or get to work.”

As a state representative in 2003, Johnson voted against Driver Responsibility Fees. As secretary of state, she has pushed for repealing the Driver Responsibility Fee law, successfully advocating that lawmakers eliminate the most common fees in 2011, create a community service option for certain fees in 2015 and begin phasing out all fees.

Driver Responsibility Fees are an additional fee automatically charged for various traffic violations, including non-moving violations, on top of regular traffic citation fines and court costs. Unlike traditional court fines and fees in which a judge can take into consideration a driver’s ability to pay and order alternatives, such as payment plans or community service in lieu of payment, the automatically assessed Driver Responsibility Fees cannot be waived or reduced by a judge.

“Serve,” “Secure” and “Protect”

Three priorities that define Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s tenure
Johnson releases short video of department’s accomplishments

The mission of the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office can be summed up in three words, “serve,” “secure” and “protect,” according to Ruth Johnson, elected the state’s 42nd Secretary of State in 2010.

Since taking office, Johnson and her staff have concentrated on positioning her office for the challenges of the 21st century by defining three top priorities: customer service, elections’ integrity and consumer protection. Now, in the final year of her administration, she is releasing a short video summarizing the achievements of the last seven years.

The key priority of Johnson has been to secure the protection and integrity of Michigan’s elections. Under her administration, more than 1.2 million names of voters who had died, moved out of state or were otherwise not eligible to vote were removed from the state’s Qualified Voter File rolls. In addition, new voting equipment that is easier to use and provides greater security was purchased for every city and township. Johnson saved $30 million in federal money and successfully advocated the Legislature to contribute $10 million.

Since taking office, 563,000 people who died, 134,000 who moved out of state and 3,500 noncitizens have been removed from the voter list. The department also has an ongoing subscription with the Security Social Administration to identify and remove people who have died.

“I’ve spent a lot of time listening to people’s thoughts and concerns with the Secretary of State’s Office,” Johnson said. “I’ve also talked extensively with staff about their vision. We’re focused on a customer-focused agency dedicated to integrity, consumer protection and better service delivery.”

Johnson’s other priority is customer service, using technology to provide better, faster services. Today, innovations such as ExpressSOS.com, an online powerhouse for Secretary of State services, and MI-TIME Line, which allows customers to make an appointment or hold their place in line by phone, kiosk or computer, are used routinely by millions of residents across the state.

Shutting down fraudulent activities and protecting consumers is Johnson’s other priority. The department’s Office of Investigative Services, which was created by Johnson, targets illegal activity, including fraudulent auto insurance certificates, vehicle registrations and titles, defective auto repairs, bad warranties and repair-plagued vehicles. Since 2015, the OIS has shut down 48 unregistered auto repair shops and 62 car dealerships, and processed 347 criminal warrant requests.

Michigan Complies Fully with Federal REAL ID Law

All licenses, ID cards accepted for all purposes until Oct. 1, 2020

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson announced today that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security officially confirmed this week that Michigan fully complies with the federal REAL ID Act.

The state’s full compliance status means all Michigan driver’s licenses and ID cards will be accepted until Oct. 1, 2020, to board domestic flights, or enter federal buildings, nuclear plants or military bases.

On Oct. 1, 2020, Michigan residents will need REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses or ID cards or another accepted identification document to board flights or enter federal sites.

Secretary Johnson Comments on Driver Responsibility Fee Elimination Deal

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson made the following statement regarding the announced deal to eliminate Driver Responsibility Fees:

“This announced deal to address and fully eliminate Driver Responsibility Fees is great news for Michigan motorists. The automatic fees collected by the Department of Treasury were a terrible mistake during the dark days of Michigan’s lost decade. They’re a double-penalty that hit hard-working Michigan families and unlike the underlying traffic ticket, judges couldn’t review or offer alternate ways of taking care of the added fee.

“The fact that we’re eliminating these fees shows how much Michigan has come back over the past seven years. I’m thankful that the Legislature and the governor are moving swiftly to close this painful chapter in our history. The fees had nothing to do with traffic safety, never should have been adopted and are now finally on the way out.”

As a state representative in 2003, Johnson voted against Driver Responsibility Fees. As secretary of state, she has pushed for repealing the Driver Responsibility Fee law, successfully advocating that lawmakers eliminate the most common fees in 2011, create a community service option for certain fees in 2015 and begin phasing out all fees.

Driver Responsibility Fees are an additional fee automatically charged for various traffic violations, including non-moving violations, on top of regular traffic citation fines and court costs. Unlike traditional court fines and fees in which a judge can take into consideration a driver’s ability to pay and order alternatives, such as payment plans or community service in lieu of payment, the automatically assessed Driver Responsibility Fees cannot be waived or reduced by a judge.

Secretary of State Johnson Encourages Lawmakers to Take Action on Driver Fees

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson today made the following statement about Driver Responsibility Fees as lawmakers return from winter break next week.

“Michigan residents have waited long enough for relief from these burdensome fees that are hurting families and job growth across the state,” Johnson said. “I encourage House and Senate members to work together with the governor to reach a deal right away to forgive the fees. Driver Responsibility Fees are not enforcing traffic safety. Because of this automatic double-penalty, too many Michigan residents have lost their licenses because of Driver Responsibility Fees. They can’t take their kids to school or get to work, disrupting their families and harming local businesses who can’t find enough qualified employees.”

As a state representative in 2003, Johnson voted against Driver Responsibility Fees. As secretary of state, she has pushed for repealing the Driver Responsibility Fee law, successfully advocating that lawmakers eliminate the most common fees in 2011, create a community service option for certain fees in 2015 and begin phasing out all fees.

Driver Responsibility Fees are an additional fee automatically charged for various traffic violations, including non-moving violations, on top of regular traffic citation fines and court costs. Unlike traditional court fines and fees in which a judge can take into consideration a driver’s ability to pay and order alternatives, such as payment plans or community service in lieu of payment, the automatically assessed Driver Responsibility Fees cannot be waived or reduced by a judge.

Hold Your Spot in Line at the Secretary of State’s Office

More SOS offices to offer service that lets customers hold spot in line, make appointments
Check in online or with your phone, don’t wait in the office

The innovative MI-TIME Line service that allows customers to use their phones or computers to make appointments or hold their place in line is being installed at 13 more offices over the next few months, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson announced today.

“Customers who can’t hop online to ExpressSOS.com can soon take advantage of the MI-TIME Line service at many more of our offices,” Johnson said. “After you get in line, you can run other errands or wait from home or work until you’re ready to be called up.”

MI-TIME Line sends text updates to notify customers of their estimated wait time and allows them to request more time if needed. Those who don’t have a mobile phone can check in at the MI-TIME Line kiosk and get a printed ticket.

More than 5.7 million customers have used the service to complete a total of 10.3 million transactions since it launched in January 2014. The 43 offices that will offer MI-TIME Line when this expansion is complete total 56 percent of all branch transactions performed statewide.

Customers can find participating offices and reserve their place in line at michigan.gov/mitimeline.

Keep It Real Online

Go to official State of Michigan sites, not unaffiliated pay sites

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson reminds Michigan residents that when they go online for Secretary of State business they double-check the website they’re doing business with before they get taken for a ride by a motor-vehicle look-alike site.

“When you need answers or have driver or vehicle business to do in Michigan, watch out for sites that aren’t official state of Michigan sites that pop up in a web search,” Johnson said. “Those unofficial sites may charge you unnecessary fees and provide inaccurate information. Keep it real. Deal directly with the Secretary of State’s Office.”

Residents should be sure to go to the official sites Michigan.gov/sos or ExpressSOS.com for the most accurate information.

Johnson said her office regularly receives complaints from customers who believed they visited an official Secretary of State website to complete a transaction and paid a fee, only to later find that the money did not go to the state, and they did not get the services they thought they were buying.

Unfortunately, these customers used an online search engine that listed sites not affiliated with the state of Michigan when they were looking for driver’s license and vehicle license plate renewal options or other Secretary of State services. These sites charge for information or services that are normally available at no cost on the official department website.

The unofficial sites, which may end in “.org” or “.com”, often give the initial impression of being a motor-vehicle agency website, but, if you look closer, the sites may have a notification they are not affiliated with a government agency. Some sites sell “guides” to people about how to obtain a driver’s license that may be nothing more than electronic versions of free literature that motorists can get online or at any Secretary of State office.

Official Secretary of State online services can be accessed by going to Michigan.gov/sos or ExpressSOS.com, which redirect users to the Michigan.gov site. State of Michigan web pages all have Michigan.gov in the address or state.mi.us for some services.

SOS Offices to Issue Optional REAL ID-compliant Licenses, ID Cards

Under federal rules, only compliant cards to be accepted for air travel 

REAL ID-compliant license

Michigan residents will have the option beginning next Monday, Aug. 28 of applying for a driver’s license or ID card that will allow them to board flights and enter federal facilities to comply with a federal mandate, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson announced today.

Right above: REAL ID-compliant driver’s license.

Right below: Standard driver’s license is not REAL ID-compliant.

Standard driver's license

“Without a card accepted by the federal government, Michigan residents will face the inconvenience and extra expense of having to get a passport or another accepted document to fly or visit federal buildings,” Johnson said. “To avoid future headaches for travelers, we will offer a compliant card for those who want one, and, for those who don’t, we still have the standard card for normal identification purposes.”

Beginning Oct. 1, 2020, the federal government will not allow Michigan residents carrying a driver’s license or ID card that does not comply with the federal REAL ID Act to board domestic flights, or enter federal buildings, nuclear plants or military bases unless they have another accepted identity document.

Compliant cards will be marked with a star inside a gold circle on the upper right. There is no extra fee for a REAL ID-compliant card and compliant cards will not contain Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology.

Michigan residents should check their license or ID card renewal notice when it arrives in the mail for information about whether they already have complied with REAL ID identification requirements. To obtain a compliant card, residents will need to bring a certified birth certificate or another approved document to any Secretary of State office.

Card-holders who do not apply for a REAL ID-compliant license or ID card will receive a standard one with “Not for federal identification” printed on it. These cards still will be valid for driving, identification purposes and buying age-restricted items.

Enhanced driver's license

In addition to the standard and REAL ID-compliant cards, Michigan also issues enhanced driver’s licenses and ID cards (pictured at left), which are marked with a U.S. flag, and allow land or sea travel from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and Caribbean nations. These cards already are REAL ID-compliant so enhanced card-holders do not need to apply for a compliant card.

The federal REAL ID standards for driver’s licenses and ID cards were created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks based on recommendations from the 9/11 Commission. The act sets document and security standards for the production and issuance of driver’s licenses and ID cards, including the use of features to prevent illegal copying or altering. It also helps protect against fraud and misuse by requiring people to verify their identity, residency, Social Security number, and citizenship or legal presence when applying for a license or ID card.

The REAL ID Act passed Congress in 2005 on a bipartisan basis, and the administrations of Presidents Bush, Obama and Trump have worked to enforce it.

Customers with questions about REAL ID licenses and ID cards may visit the Secretary of State website or call the Department of State Information Center at 888-SOS-MICH (767-6424).

NOTE:

SOS Starts Ignition on CARS Project

New effort begins to modernize computer system for customers

 Secretary of State staff are celebrating the recent launch of the new effort to modernize the office’s computer system that will bring more efficient, convenient service to customers across Michigan, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson announced today.

The new effort, called Customer and Automotive Records System (CARS), will create a modern computer system, replacing the antiquated legacy mainframe-based system that dates to the late 1960s. The legacy system is programmed with a computer language that is no longer taught, and is costly to maintain and update.

“The people of Michigan and Secretary of State staff deserve better than the out-of-date computer system we have,” Johnson said. “Now we are moving forward with our partner FAST Enterprises to make a much-improved system a reality. FAST has a proven record of success launching similar projects on time and on budget for many other state motor-vehicle agencies.”

The CARS Project will combine Michigan’s millions of driver and vehicle records into one integrated customer record system that updates in real time, replacing multiple, separate systems that don’t effectively transfer customer-record updates among themselves.

All of the information in the new system will be quickly accessible by an office staff member with a single search. Even correspondence that has been sent to each customer will be part of their record.

The improvement in technology will pave the way for more self-service options for customers, such as ordering license plates online, and for faster, less resource-intensive programming when there are legislative changes that affect the department. CARS will also help the department move to electronic records and to eliminate paperwork for customers.

FAST Enterprises, the vendor for the project, has launched 10 motor-vehicle systems in eight states and is the only company nationally that has successfully completed legacy modernization projects for motor-vehicle agencies in more than one state. In each of those states, the company delivered on time and on budget. The company is taking its existing software package and tailoring it to Michigan’s needs.

CARS is expected to be implemented fully within five years. The first half of the project will involve converting vehicle records over to the new system and implementing it. Then, the same will be done for driver records.