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Michigan SOS Benson Outlines Plan To Reduce Wait Times

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Jocelyn Benson for Secretary of State
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Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson testified Thursday before a legislative committee about long wait times at branch offices and some possible remedies.Benson told the House Oversight Committee the COVID-19 crisis helped put in sharp relief some long-standing problems. Benson said her office is experimenting with staggered hours, pop-up offices, and moving more services online. But she also said, with limited staff and resources, her office can’t meet all the demands when and where people want them.

“We’ve got short-term needs and short-term solutions that we can explore,” she said, “and then we’ve got long-term vision that I think we can hopefully work towards.”

Benson said her office is trying things such as neighborhood pop-up offices, self-serve kiosks, and staggered office hours. But she said all of those actions require resources to be reallocated, which means someone will be inconvenienced.

“If you don’t have enough staff, then all you’re doing is taking someone off of the other sides and giving them there, and then increasing the wait or reducing capacity for everyone else,” she said.

Benson said some possible solutions would require the Legislature’s approval. Her proposal to raise driver’s license record search fees to help pay for that got a cool reception from Republicans on the committee.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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