Michigan Secretary of State

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

Department of State
Department overview
FormedOctober 6, 1835 (1835-10-06)
TypeState department
JurisdictionState of Michigan
HeadquartersLansing, Michigan
Department executive
Key document

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

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

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

The current Secretary of State is Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat.

Department organization

Secretary of State office, Pittsfield Township

Customer Services Administration

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

Department Services Administration

The Department Services Administration (DSA) provides coordination and support to the agency in the areas of administration, finance, technology, project management, human resources, employee development, and occupancy management. The DSA includes the Office of Technology and Project Services, the Office of Human Resources, the Office of Occupancy Services, the Accounting Services Division, the Budget Services Division, and the department's Business Application Modernization initiative.[2]

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

Election and officeholders

Secretary of State of Michigan
Jocelyn Benson
since January 1, 2019
Michigan Department of State
AppointerPopular election
Term length4 Years, Renewable Once
Inaugural holderKintzing Prichette

The Secretary of State is elected for a four-year term, concurrent with that of the governor. Candidates are nominated at partisan conventions.[5] Under an amendment to the state Constitution which was passed in 1992, the Secretary of State is restricted to two four-year terms in that office.

The Secretary of State receives the courtesy title of The Honorable for life.

Michigan secretaries of state
# Officeholder[6] Term of service Political party
1 Kintzing Prichette 1835–1838 Democratic
2 Randolph Manning 1838–1840 Democratic
3 Thomas Rowland 1840–1842 Whig
4 Robert P. Eldredge 1842–1846 Democratic
5 Gideon O. Whittemore 1846–1848
6 George W. Peck 1848–1850 Democratic
7 George R. Redfield 1850 Democratic
8 Charles H. Taylor 1850–1852 Democratic
9 William Graves 1853–1855 Democratic
10 John McKinney 1855–1859 Republican
11 Nelson G. Isbell 1859–1861 Republican
12 James B. Porter 1861–1867 Republican
13 Oliver L. Spaulding 1867–1871 Republican
14 Daniel Striker 1871–1875 Republican
15 Ebenezer G. D. Holden 1875–1879 Republican
16 William Jenney 1879–1883 Republican
17 Harry A. Conant 1883–1887 Republican
18 Gilbert R. Osmun 1887–1891 Republican
19 Daniel E. Soper 1891 Democratic
20 Robert R. Blacker 1891–1893 Democratic
21 John W. Jochim 1893–1894 Republican
22 Washington Gardner 1894–1899 Republican
23 Justus Smith Stearns 1899–1901 Republican
24 Fred M. Warner 1901–1905 Republican
25 George A. Prescott 1905–1909 Republican
26 Frederick C. Martindale 1909–1915 Republican
27 Coleman C. Vaughan 1915–1921 Republican
28 Charles J. DeLand 1921–1927 Republican
29 John S. Haggerty 1927–1931 Republican
30 Frank Fitzgerald 1931–1934 Republican
31 Clarke W. Brown 1934 Republican
32 Orville E. Atwood 1935–1937 Republican
33 Leon D. Case 1937–1939 Democratic
34 Harry Kelly 1939–1943 Republican
35 Herman H. Dignan 1943–1946 Republican
36 Frederick M. Alger Jr. 1947–1953 Republican
37 Owen Cleary 1953–1955 Republican
38 James M. Hare 1955–1971 Democratic
39 Richard H. Austin 1971–1995 Democratic
40 Candice Miller 1995–2003 Republican
41 Terri Lynn Land 2003–2011 Republican
42 Ruth Johnson 2011–2019 Republican
43 Jocelyn Benson 2019–present Democratic

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


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