Michigan Secretary of State offices offering 350,000 more appointments

Efficiencies reduce transaction times, allowing for more people to be served
 (Michigan Secretary of State Photo)
(Michigan Secretary of State Photo) (WLUC)
Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 11:19 AM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - The 210 Michigan Secretary of State branch offices are offering about 350,000 more appointments though the month of September thanks to efficiencies that reduce transaction times.

Secretary of State office staff are shaving time off certain transactions, which allows them to serve 25% more people through Sept. 30. The length of appointments for some transactions is decreasing from 20 minutes down to 10 minutes.

People can begin booking half of the new appointments online Tuesday and the other half will become available soon. Many of the new appointments will be scheduled the day before they are available from 8 a.m. to noon on weekdays for next-day service.

“We were able to do this after discussions with our frontline workers who, concerned about the chatter here in Lansing to revert back to a broken ‘take a number and wait’ system, suggested ways they could work harder and faster to be able to handle more transactions efficiently and quickly,” said Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.

Click here to schedule an appointment online or call 1-888-SOS-MICH to schedule an appointment over the phone.

Many of the busiest Secretary of State branch offices also are placing greeters at the front doors to advise walk-in customers whether a staff member will be able to serve them that day. If no time slots are available, the greeter will schedule an appointment for them to return.

Drivers who need a disability placard do not need an appointment for the transaction at a Secretary of State branch office. While appointments are encouraged for those visits, staff will serve them as soon as possible after they arrive.

“I am truly grateful to the hard-working men and women who have given years, if not decades, of their lives to public service here at the Department of State,” said Benson. “Whether the legislative leaders are with us or not, the people of this department will not give up on our mission of continuing to find new ways to provide convenient and efficient service to all Michiganders. And neither will I.”

Benson created the appointment system when her branch offices reopened last summer. She announced in April that the appointments will continue indefinitely after the coronavirus pandemic ends.

Benson has asked the Republican-led Legislature to approve spending $25 million from now through September to hire more staff and approve additional overtime, which she said would allow for 500,000 more appointments. Her office is working through a backlog of work after COVID-19 shutdowns last year.

Lawmakers allowed grace periods and extensions of driver’s licenses and registrations, but those all expired on March 31.

Instead of approving Benson’s plan, Republicans have proposed another extension for expired licenses and registrations with no penalties while Secretary of State offices work through the backlog.

Republican State Sen. Ruth Johnson of Holly, who was secretary of state from 2011 to 2019, proposed a three-bill package to waive late fees and extend licenses to Sept. 30. She was happy to see Benson’s changes announced Tuesday, but she believes branch offices should reopen fully without appointments.

“I am really happy to see the secretary of state finally listening to Michigan families and making some changes to help people,” Johnson said. “I also appreciate that they are responding to specific concerns for customers with disabilities.”

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