Michigan secretary of state defends appointment system amid legislative scrutiny

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.
Published: May. 31, 2021 at 10:47 AM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is defending her decision to stick with appointment-only visits to branch offices after the coronavirus pandemic.

Lawmakers are pushing back, saying people should again be able to go without an appointment.

Half of all appointments are next-day appointments -- an option for drivers with urgent business such as renewing an expiring license or transferring a vehicle title.

The appointment-only model started in the summer of 2020 when Secretary of State branch offices reopened following a months-long COVID-19 shutdown. Benson announced in April that she plans to continue the appointment-only model indefinitely.

Residents who need in-person services from a Secretary of State office say the wait for an appointment can be several months. Branches in the Lansing area were booked for three months.

Benson concedes the appointments fill up fast but contends the system, while “not perfect,” is better than residents having to potentially wait hours in line.

Republicans who control the Legislature included language in budget bills that would require Benson to allow walk-in visits without appointments again. Those bills still have to go through the lawmaking process before they could be enacted.

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