CORRECTION: 5/21/2021: This story has been updated to correct certain factual errors.
Lansing, Mich. (WLNS)— Under the Last Secretary of state, the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office created ‘self-service stations’ for Michiganders to use.
However, the change to the Secretary of State’s Office has some lawmakers and Michiganders concerned.
The new change has halted walk-in appointments until further notice. Although, the plan was created to make life easier for Michigan residents to access resources; the elderly, farmers, people operating in rural Michigan, and some other groups find it difficult to schedule an appointment.
David Roy, a local business owner of Marana Group headquartered in Kalamazoo, Michigan uses trucks to transport documents, and other material to northern Indiana. Roy spoke to the House Oversight Committee in Lansing about problems his company dealt with ever since he was forced to use self-service stations.
“We ask all of our driver candidates to present a copy of their state driving record pre-pandemic a candidate could walk into a Secretary of State’s Office, pay a fee, and receive a print out while they wait” Roy said. “Ever since march last year, that process requires an appointment the Secretary of State’s office appointment system has appointments available months away…as an employer— I can violate my longstanding safety policy, and put unvetted drivers behind the wheel, or I can postpone putting the driver on the road so they can provide the report.”
However, during the pandemic the Secretary of State implemented policies that would allow individuals to schedule appointments up to six months in advance. Appointments are also available online from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Most common transactions can be done online at Michigan.gov/SOS, including renewing a registration or a license/ID that doesn’t require a photo. The same transactions can be done at the self service stations.
Michiganders have the choice of using the SoS website at home or going to the self service station. These options are in addition to booking an appointment at a branch location when needed.
As COVID-19 restrictions lift people hope to get a chance for more in-person appointments.
“We need to have options to meet the needs of all of the residents,” said Senator Ruth Johnson, former Michigan Secretary of State.
Senator Ruth Johnson testified on how permanently having online services could keep certain groups from accessing resources.
“Not everyone has a smart phone, credit card, checking account, not everyone can make it on Monday 9 to 5,” Johnson stated. We have to be accessible and help people… it’s hurting them in real concrete ways.”
Johnson highlights Michigan’s customer service with the transition to online self-service stations , the elderly, and people telling her internet pages are slow due to high volume.
In a previous press release issued to 6 News Secretary of State Benson acknowledged the system still needs to be improved, as some customers find it challenging to book appointment. She also says the number of appointments will increase to about 35,000 a month, and their is also a call center to help people without access to the internet.
A house oversight committee meeting will be held again next week where Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson expects to respond to Michiganders concerns.