Secretary of State Benson defends controversial branch changes
the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office implements changes to operate more efficiently. Branches now accepts most clients by appointment only, more services can be performed online and appointment times are reduced to add 350,000 appointment slots.
“We want to get to the point where we can have 45,000 transactions statewide every day …. The problem right now is this backlog and the funding cuts. —Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson
These changes met with opposition from Republicans. But Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said changes were needed to support the Michiganders.
Listen: Jocelyn Benson on recent changes to Secretary of State’s branches and services.
Jocelyne benson is Michigan Secretary of State. She says a backlog of appointments during the pandemic, along with limited funding, has forced her office to adjust its operating system. “We’re trying to recognize that the past model of doing things… really wasn’t working. Staff who have worked in the offices for decades actually recommended these changes. Benson says she hopes to make even more changes in order to be efficient and accessible statewide.
Some of these changes would require approval from the Republican-led legislature, which has taken an adversarial approach towards Benson and his department since 2019. Benson says she would like lawmakers to allow Michiganders to update the state. username photos without having to go to a branch.
“If you can take a photo remotely and upload it online for a passport photo, you should be able to do it for a state username,” she says.
With more funding from the legislature to keep branches running evenings and weekends, Benson says the offices would be able to dramatically increase the number of open appointments. “We want to get to the point where we can have 45,000 statewide transactions every day,” she says. “The problem right now is this backlog and the funding cuts.”
“There are many days when I would like us to have the support and cooperation of the Legislature, ”said Benson. “Unfortunately, Lansing’s toxic environment right now is not this one.”