Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson provided an update on her office as she campaigns for re-election.
Benson noted several improvements made during her first term in office, including shorter wait times, better online services and replacing all of the department’s kiosks.
She says the Secretary of State has seen a shift since her election in 2018 and that most people are accessing her office remotely as a result of the pandemic.
According to the department, customers are using self-service kiosks or the Secretary of State’s website 60% of the time, up from just 28% in 2018.
Benson says residents can schedule their appointments ahead of time if they want to meet in-person.
“We now get you in and out in an average of just 20 minutes total,” says Benson. “That’s not a wait time. That’s the total amount of time that people spend in our office.”
Benson says the Secretary of State also takes walk-up appointments.
She says her office has gone through most of the state’s pandemic backlog and is hiring to fill 50 vacancies across Michigan.
Now, Benson is calling on the state legislature to fund a customer outreach program in order to continue the expansion of services for the department. The initiative will bring Secretary of State services directly to seniors, rural residents and other individuals without access to the internet or who may have mobility limitations.
The department launched its first mobile office in southeast Michigan in October. Benson says the effort allowed state workers to travel to 10 sites and help more than 400 people. She says she’d like six other mobile offices.
“It brings our in-person services directly to senior centers, homeless shelters and other places where people have limited internet access or are otherwise typically underserved,” says Benson.
Benson is seeking a second term in office as she heads into Michigan’s statewide elections next year. She faces a broad field of Republicans in her bid for re-election next year.