LANSING, Mich. — Michigan residents who visit the secretary of state offices will need an appointment even after the pandemic ends.
Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said Thursday that she is making permanent a change that was done to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Gone are the days when a person could walk into a branch and wait in line.
Benson called the old way an “antiquated, inefficient, take-a-number system that nobody liked.”
“The entire model of going to one of the 131 branch offices across the state, taking the number and waiting in line may have worked in the 1970s and 1980s, but it's not going to work today for our citizens,” said Benson. “We only want branches to be used ultimately to the very limited circumstances where you need that one on one experience.”
The pandemic model of low appointments and more activity on the SoS website is here to stay. Benson says appointment slots will be increased by 10% in the near future, with tighter scheduling that will enable the government to serve roughly 35,000 more residents per month. But online activity doubled since Benson took office in 2019 and during the pandemic, 60% of SoS transactions were completed online.
And Benson, a Democrat, says the next step is to bring SoS resources directly to where they’re needed most, hopefully with help from the GOP-led state legislature.
“We are looking, and have asked the legislature, to give us the ability to create pop up offices,” said Benson, “and that would enable us to go to senior centers, malls, and other places with branch services that again, get away from this model of going to a brick and mortar office.”
Benson says 50% of people who show up to branch offices, don’t need to. Along with this rollout of new technology almost two-years in the making, Benson wants written driving tests to move online, and another of her proposals would let veterans with military CDL’s skip civilian re-training and re-testing.
According to her, more than 1-million people visited SoS branches in the last year, with an in-and-out time of roughly 20-minutes.
For those who aren’t internet-savvy, don’t have a connection, or need additional help scheduling an appointment, call the SoS hotline at 888-SOS-MICH.