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Michigan SOS Benson temporarily extends hours to clear backlog

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson aims to clear a 15-month backlog by temporarily extending hours and harnessing remote license and ID renewals.

On Wednesday, Benson applauded the GOP-led legislature for approving a bill package extending ID, driver’s license, and registration deadlines through Sept. 30, a bill she previously vehemently opposed.

In April, Benson attempted to end SOS walk-in service, citing long lines and frustration caused by previous systems. However, she backed down.

“Right now anyone can access in-person services at our 130 branch offices by walking up, calling ahead or going online to schedule a visit, and no matter what they choose every Michigander is now provided accurate information on when they will be served and the certainty that their office visit will take on average just 20 minutes,” Benson said. “This operating model moves the department forward, and I want to thank members of the Michigan House of Representatives who worked with us to craft bipartisan legislation in support of it and our post-pandemic plan to continue providing convenient and efficient in-person services for all Michiganders.”

That’s a 180-degree turn from Benson’s statements on June 10, less than 30 days ago, about the same bill package.

“Frankly, it’s astounding that any senator would force their own constituents backward into a system that already proved a failure,” Benson previously said.

Eric Ventimiglia, executive director for the conservative group Michigan Rising Action, accused Benson of “gaslighting” the topic.

“It’s amazing that Secretary Benson would have the gall to act as if these bills are anything but a full rebuke of her disastrous appointment-only policy, which left Michiganders waiting months to conduct their business with the SOS, if they could find an appointment at all,” Ventimiglia said in a statement. “The people of Michigan will not be fooled by Benson’s gaslighting on these bills, and she will be held accountable for her failures as Michigan’s Secretary of State.”

Michiganders can schedule office visits online at Michigan.gov/SOS, by calling 888-SOS-MICH, or by stopping by an office. When residents arrive at offices unannounced, staff serve them immediately if possible, tell them when the next opening is, or assist them to schedule a return visit at a convenient time for them.

  • From July 19 to Sept 30, all offices will stay open until 6 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays and open at 8 a.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. (Current office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday). Residents can schedule visits via phone or in-person starting at 2 p.m. on Wednesdays, when the extra hours for the entire following week will become available.
  • Most driver’s licenses and state IDs expiring on or after July 1 can now be renewed without an office visit, thanks to a technology upgrade. More than 1,600 Michiganders have already renewed their license or ID online or at a self-service station. In-person visits for new photos are only required every 12 years instead of every eight. Residents who recently received a renewal mailer saying they need to renew in person are encouraged first to try renewing online or at a self-service station, as mailers sent before July couldn’t reflect the change until it took effect.

“The extra office hours will provide in-person service to 120,000 additional Michiganders, and the technology upgrade will enable hundreds of thousands of residents to renew their licenses and IDs from the comfort of their own home,” Benson said. “We have a strong plan in place to provide an abundance of in-person office availability in coming months, to work through the transaction backlog created by the pandemic, and to improve upon our service-driven operating model that provides the convenient, efficient and equitable service that Michiganders have sought and deserved for decades.”

Benson estimated the backlog will be cleared by the next fiscal year, which begins October 1.

This article was originally posted on Michigan SOS Benson temporarily extends hours to clear backlog

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