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Benson promises more appointment times and greeters to ease SOS backlog

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

Criticized for a massive backlog at local Secretary of State office branches, Secretary Jocelyn Bensonsays her department is taking steps to improve service.

Benson implemented an appointment-onlysystem during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the change from a walk-in system has not been well received.

To address some of the concerns, Benson says her staff has come up with ways to work more efficiently to create the additional appointment times.

“Our staff has said ‘you know what, we can take something that takes us 20 minutes and we’ll work extra efficiently to get it done in ten...and find other efficiencies as well so we can essentially cut that appointment time in half and free up another ten minutes to serve someone else,” says Benson.

Benson says working more efficiently will create 350,000 thousand more appointment time slots between now and September. About half of the new appointment times will be “next-day” appointments. 

She says local branch offices will also start using a greeter to assist those more accustomed to the old walk-up system.

“If someone walks up to an office, the greeter will meet them....assist them....and will tell them if there are any immediate appointments available,” says Benson “If not, they’ll assist them in scheduling a time for them to return to the office and be taken care of.”

Residents needing disability placards can now be served as soon as possible after arrival at any office. While these residents are still encouraged to schedule their visit, appointments are no longer required to receive a disability placard.

Secretary Benson blames budget cuts and COVID closures for a massive backlog that has resulted in a growing number of Michiganders driving without new license plates.

She’s asking the legislature to approve $25 million to pay for additional staff and extended office hours in local SOS branch offices. 

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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