Security concerns and staff turnover continue to plague the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office, according to recent reports.
A MIRS report found that 50 “critical incident” notices were filed in regards to disruptions at Secretary of State branch offices throughout Michigan in 2019. The incidents involved customers yelling at each other, threatening employees with physical violence, and assaulting state employees.
The Michigan Secretary of State’s Office had the most “critical incident” reports of any state agency in 2019.
The report said that some employees “didn’t bother reporting incidents because they didn’t think there would be any follow-up.”
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget proposal calls for $790,000 in funding to launch a pilot program for manning branch offices with “uniformed personnel.”
“Security has been an ongoing issue and there are a number of issues that stretch back for years, security is among those. We were pleased to see Gov. Whitmer include some budget for security in there for our branch offices,” a spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s Office told Fox 17.
On top of the security concerns, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has lost her chief deputy, chief of staff, communications director, deputy communications director, and elections chief within the last year.
“The reports about the chaos happening at Secretary of State branches under Jocelyn Benson’s watch is incredibly troubling,” Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Laura Cox said in a statement.
“How can Benson be trusted to ensure the integrity of Michigan’s elections, when she can’t ensure her own offices run smoothly?” Cox continued. “The long wait times at these offices and the frustrations they have caused Michigan citizens have to be addressed immediately and the safety of her employees and customers guaranteed.”
Benson announced in January that her office was installing new self-service kiosks used for renewing vehicle registrations across the state to help improve customer wait times. Benson said her office met its goals of “ensuring every resident has an opportunity to get in and out of a branch in under 30 minutes” in 2019.
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photos “Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson” by State of Michigan.