Skubick: Plan to add security at Secretary of State offices comes with $790K pricetag

Michigan

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants lawmakers to spend $790,000 for a pilot program to beef up security at five branch offices for the Secretary of State.  

The request comes in the wake of an internal report documenting some serious problems in some SOS offices.

According to the internal reported in 2019, there was a drive-by shooting at the Lansing Secretary of State office with a bullet ending up inside.  No one was hurt.

The MIRS newsletter reports there were 51 instances of disruptions in 2019 including verbal abuse of clerks, a fist fight involving four women, and food being thrown.

Since the frustration levels can run high as citizens wait to be served, some times as long as four hours, the former Michigan secretary of state Ruth Johnson concedes there can be issues.

“Some of these folks can become excited very easily. Some don’t like how much they have to pay,” says Johnson. “Some are unhappy that they did not bring all of their paper work but 99% of the people, when they come in, do the right thing. Some don’t like long lines but people are really good.”

While that may be the case, the governor still wants to hire uniformed personnel for a pilot program for five branch offices at a cost of $790,000.

Current Michigan secretary of state Jocelyn Benson is all in.

“It’s important that we keep everyone safe and there were safety concerns that developed well before I got here,” explains Benson. “We are proactively working to do everything we can to protect the safety of our employees and our citizens who come in.”

Now a state Republican senator, Ms. Johnson is not ready to say “yes” to the governor’s request.

“I’d have to look at that. I don’t know,” explains Johnson. “We have security in places where it was more problematic. I had a death threat for taking away a drivers license for too many DUI’s. How much is needed for security is always a question.”

Whether lawmakers will answer the question with $790,000 is another question.

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