by Scott McClallen
A bill introduced to the Michigan Legislature aims to stop the black-market sale of Secretary of State (SOS) appointments.
When SOS Jocelyn Benson in May said the state would permanently end walk-in service, arguing the walk-in system was inefficient, the announcement sparked a black market of Michiganders so desperate for an appointment some chose to pay for an otherwise free service.
People who either schedule appointments or snag a next-day appointment offer them on Facebook Marketplace and other online communities.
House Bill 5162, proposed by Rep. Ranjeev Puri, D-Canton Township, seeks to prohibit a third party from selling Secretary of State branch appointments.
Puri hasn’t responded to a request from The Center Square for a comment.
The combination of COVID-19 delays and no walk-in service meant some Michiganders had to wait months driving illegally if they couldn’t snag a next-day appointment for a title transfer or other service.
Benson’s press secretary Aneta Kiersnowski said most services can be accessed without visiting an office via website or 150 self-service stations statewide.
In early June, Benson announced an additional 350,000 appointments aimed at clearing the 15-month backlog, plus greeters at some branches who help customers right away or schedule a return visit.
“Yet in spite of this availability, there are still bad actors who attempt to scam residents by claiming to sell appointments,” Kiersnowski told The Center Square in an email. “We seek out and cancel these appointments before they come to fruition, and also support legislative efforts to hold those bad actors accountable.”
The bill was referred to the House Oversight Committee.
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.