Michigan Secretary of State

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and Democratic challenger Godfrey Dillard seem to agree that Michigan motorists dread dealing with the state's motor vehicle registration and driver's license system.

In her campaign for another four years, Johnson talks about how hard she worked to improve service at Department of State branch offices even as her budget shrank. And she talks about expanding her pilot programs to cut the wait time.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

For many newly married couples, it’s not unusual to apply to the state and federal government to get their new last names.

But for Art Bristol and Corey Ledin, whose newly minted marriage license declares their last names as Ledin-Brisol, the process was far from usual.

TV cameras were watching and photographers snapped pictures. The secretary of state's office wouldn't even accept the same-sex couple's paperwork for a new driver’s license.

People voting
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says she's asked the state Attorney General's office to investigate 10 people who aren't U.S. citizens but have voted in past Michigan elections.

MLive reports the letter to Bill Schuette calls for an "investigation, and if appropriate, prosecution."

The Secretary of State's office says the people are from Kent, Macomb, Oakland, Roscommon and Wayne counties. Names of those involved haven't been released, but Johnson's office says they voted in presidential and gubernatorial elections in the past decade.

Schuette spokeswoman Joy Yearout says they received the letter from Johnson and the referrals are under review.

The 10 people area some of 600 people who earlier were verified as not being U.S. citizens by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

anthonylibrarian / Creative Commons

Another Michigan man who was denied a personalized license plate the state says could be considered “offensive to good taste and decency” is suing on free speech grounds.

The American Civil Liberties Union is already suing the Secretary of State over a similar case in federal court in Grand Rapids.

Ever since U.S. Senator Carl Levin announced three months ago that he wouldn't seek another term next year, most Michigan Republicans have been waiting for Godot.

Except in this case, Godot is Brighton area Congressmen Mike Rogers, who most GOP leaders felt would be their strongest candidate. Rogers has been unable or unwilling to decide, however, and it seems increasingly unlikely that he will run.

He has a safe seat in Congress and a powerful and prestigious position as chair of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Giving all that up for a risky run for a seat in a state where Democrats usually win U.S. Senate contests might not seem that appealing. But I’ve never felt Rogers was the Republicans' strongest potential candidate. I think their best chance to win is the woman who announced her candidacy this week, Terri Lynn Land.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A state elections panel today cleared the way for two new petition drives to get underway. The drives will try to put questions on the 2014 general election ballot.

Fred Woodhams is with the Michigan Secretary of State. He says this brings the number of petition drives that have been approved for circulation to three.  He says the first is “a legislative initiative regarding fracking. “  He continued, “There’s a referendum regarding the wolf hunt legislation that was passed last year, and then there’s the constitutional amendment that deals with appropriations bills.”

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Democrats want to revamp voting procedures and make Secretary of State an appointed position

"There's a move in the Michigan Senate to change the Secretary of State's office to a non-political position and to revamp the state's voting procedures. Gretchen Whitmer is the Senate minority leader. She says many Michigan voters waited for hours to cast their ballots while Secretary of State Ruth Johnson was campaigning for Mitt Romney. A spokeswoman for Ruth Johnson says the Secretary of State was not campaigning for Romney on Election Day, but was working with local election officials. Whitmer says Senate Democrats are working on legislation that would allow early voting and no-reason absentee voting to help reduce long lines at the polls. She says they're also drafting a bill that would make the Secretary of State an appointed position, rather than an elected post," Rina Miller reports.
 

Bill would help horse racing industry

"A bill to help Michigan’s struggling horse racing industry is on its way to the state Senate. The legislation would allow people to bet on races dating back years. Players would place bets on a machine, and a randomly selected race would be shown on a video screen. The state House passed the bill last week with bi-partisan support," Jake Neher reports.

Competition for GM in China

"Two domestic Chinese car companies are teaming up.  The move could help them compete against General Motors in China - and perhaps even hasten the day when Americans can buy Chinese-made cars. Gwanjoe and Chery plan to collaborate to cut costs. That should help them compete against GM and Volkswagen - the two biggest car companies operating in China. Michael Dunne is the author of "American Wheels, Chinese Roads." He says the collaboration could help the two inside China, and boost exports to developing countries. But he figures a Chinese car company won't try to enter the tough U.S. market for at least five years," Tracy Samilton reports.

Michigan Secretary of State, Ruth Johnson.
MI SOS

It is perhaps the busiest day of the year for Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson. Michigan polling locations will be open until 8 p.m. tonight.  And, it will likely be some time before we have the final calls in many of the races.  Michigan Radio's Jennifer White spoke with Ruth Johnson about the long lines at the polls, frustration over the voter verification check box, and when we should all expect to hear some results.

As Rick Pluta reported yesterday, a coalition of voters' rights groups has filed a federal lawsuit to prevent Secretary of State Ruth Johnson from including a citizenship question on Michigan's November ballots.

Kary L. Moss, executive director for the ACLU of Michigan, said in a press release that Secretary Johnson was "not above the law."

Michigan Secretary of State, Ruth Johnson.
MI SOS

The Michigan Election Coalition has asked Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson to remove the “citizenship checkbox” from ballot applications statewide.

But so far, Johnson says she has no intention of doing that.

The question—asking voters to affirm their US citizenship before voting—confused and outraged some voters in the August primary.

Ruth Johnson for Secretary of State

The federal government is suing the state of Michigan over the failure of some local governments to get absentee ballots delivered in a timely way to members of the armed forces, reports the Associated Press.

The U.S. Justice Department asked a Grand Rapids federal judge today to order some local governments to count absentee ballots received after the Aug. 7 primary election.

The other day, I told my significant other she should plan to be out of town on election day. “Was it something I said?" she asked. Well, no. It’s the way election law works in Michigan. We may all face a ballot that is as long as the proverbial bed sheet.

Not only are there a vast number of candidates and races, we could be asked to decide on four, eight, possibly 11 different complicated ballot proposals. Do you know what would happen if every voter stayed in the booth till she or he managed to figure all this out? We’d all still be in line in four years.

Naturally, nobody does that. So people either skip the proposals or take uninformed guesses. In the case of judicial candidates, too many of us go for familiar or judicial-sounding names, which is why there are a lot of judges named Kelly.

We also, oddly enough, elect trustees of our three biggest universities, and what’s even more bizarre, elect them on a partisan basis. Since almost nobody has ever heard of any of these folks, the winners tend to be of the party that wins the top of the ticket.