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Michigan Secretary of State offices make appointment improvements, eliminate "take-a-number" system

the interior of a Michigan Secretary of State office
steve carmody
Michigan Radio

Michigan Secretary of State branch offices will not be going back to the old take-a-number-and-wait system. Due to the pandemic, offices have required an appointment.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says the people of Michigan have spoken and there’s no plan to go back to the old system.

“So we're going to listen to the people on this," she said. "It's clear they do not want us to go backwards to the old way of doing things where on any given day, you could spend hours waiting for a basic transaction in any given branch office.”

Benson says branch offices handle about 350,000 appointments per month – with plans to expand that by 10%. She's calling on the GOP-led Legislature to help modernize branch offices.

“Implementing modern best practices and available technology along with innovative ideas that support Michiganders in ways that work best for them. To do that, we need the Legislature to join us as partners in this endeavor. It's time to put politics aside and do what's best for our residents.”

Speaking at a news conference Thursday afternoon, Benson says her work was cut out for her when she took over two years ago. 

“My team has worked tirelessly these last few years to modernize this department after decades of neglect. We have a vision and plan to make this department a modern and efficient service driven agency for every resident in this state," she said. "But we cannot do it alone.”

Benson says those plans include adding self-service kiosks at grocery stores and allowing residents to upload their own driver’s license photo. Branch offices will continue with the appointment-only services – eliminating the old take-a-number-and-wait system. Benson says about 60% of Secretary of State services can be completed online, and says she plans to expand call centers to help people who don’t have internet access.

Still, there are complaints from state residents about the current appointment process. Benson says wait times at branch offices can run up to 20 minutes.

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