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In a recent column, “A chance to build on a legacy”, former Sen. Carl Levin correctly identified former Michigan Secretary of State Richard Austin as a pioneer in using the secretary of state’s motor vehicle function to promote voter registration. But the claim that Michigan has since fallen behind other states is simply false. In fact, Michigan is leading the way.

Over the past 24 years, our administration and the two before it have streamlined operations, improved customer service, and made Michigan a leader in voter registration and elections.

Every day our staff works hard in our branch offices to meet the needs of Michigan motorists and voters. Our staff was even named the second best in state government by a University of Michigan study. They are in no small way responsible for the fact that 96 percent of all eligible persons are currently registered to vote in Michigan. Eighty-five percent of these registrations are completed through the motor vehicles bureau, which gives our eligible residents the opportunity to register to vote during any transaction in our branches. Residents can also come into any branch office during regular hours to register.

During my time in office USA Today recognized Michigan as the best state in the nation at registering eligible people to vote through their motor vehicle department. And Michigan is ranked by multiple independent sources as having voter turnout in the top quarter of all states in the last federal election.

In addition to registrations that take place in our branches, during my time as secretary of state, our mobile office has traveled thousands of miles, visiting dozens of college campuses and many community events across our state helping to register eligible voters.

I agree that every eligible person deserves the opportunity to have their voice heard — and that is what we are doing every single day in our Secretary of State Offices across Michigan.

Ruth Johnson

secretary of state

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