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Michigan Secretary of State outlines plan to reduce wait times at branch offices

Michigan Department of State

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, neighborhood pop-up offices, self-serve kiosks, and moving more services online. However, she also said that with limited staff and resources, her office can’t meet all the demands when and where people want them without taking resources away from somewhere else.

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

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 said solutions got a cool reception from Republicans on the committee.

Rick Pluta is the Capitol Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He is heard daily on WCMU's Morning Edition and All Things Considered.