Tag Archives: Michigan’s Secretary of State offices

Government Matters: Kent County commissioners lists 2016 accomplishments

News of Your Government

WKTV Staff

Last year was a big year for the Kent County Board of Commissioners with 2016 including such accomplishments as the approval of the 70 cents per month increase in dispatch surcharge to improve dispatch services and the .44 mill property tax increase for the Grand Rapids Public Museum and the John Ball Zoo.


The new financial support for the John Ball Zoo was one of the accomplishments of the Kent County Board of Commissioners last year. (Supplied)

Board Chair Jim Saalfeld and County Administrator/Controller Daryl Delabbio, in a recent press release, recently detailed several other major tasks achieved by the board and county staff during the year, as well as upcoming 2017 efforts and plans.


“While there will certainly be other issues that we face during the course of a year, as you can see, it is already shaping up to be a very busy 2017,” Saalfeld said in supplied material. “This Board remains committed to providing effective services to our residents while operating transparently and with a balanced budget. We look forward to great results in 2017.”


Along with the dispatch and the museum/zoo millage, those tasks include implementation of a “space needs” study for the detention facility, correctional facility and new Circuit Court courtrooms; a Lakeshore Regional Partnership; successful negotiations of the corrections officers and court employees contracts; receiving a triple-A credit rating; creating the first Renaissance Zone to enable Switch to move into the area; and transitioning the airport from a county department to an airport authority.


Several items will continue in 2017, including the “space needs” study, the Agri-Business Work Group, the Lead Task Force and the FOC Engagement Task Force. Also this year, the board will appointing a new administrator/controller as Delabbio will be retiring on July 1. This is the first time since 1998 that the Board of Commissioners will be faced with the selection of a county administrator/controller.


Also up for 2017 is more collective bargaining; discussions of the potential merger of the Area Community Service and Employment Training Community Action Agency with the County’s Department of Community Development and Housing; a review of the board’s standing rules; and the 2018 budget.


Secretary of State details ExpressSOS advantages to citizens


Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and a rapping kangaroo are teaming up to encourage Michigan residents to hop online to do their Secretary of State business as part of an online effort to spread the word about its ExpressSOS.com website.


The “Kangaruth” video is being aired at youtube.com/michsosoffice or www.Michigan.gov/kangaruth.


Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and a rapping kangaroo are teaming up to encourage Michigan residents to hop online to do their Secretary of State business. (Supplied)

“I am asking you to help out and share the video and the message of hopping online at ExpressSOS.com with as many people as possible to help shorten the wait times at Secretary of State branch offices,” Johnson said in supplied material. “The more people that know about using the online services the shorter the wait times are for those who must visit an office in person.”


Residents can renew their registration/tabs for your car, truck, motorcycle and watercraft. Most people can renew or replace a standard driver’s license or state ID. And with its Print ’N Go feature, customers can print their receipt and drive legally until they get their card or sticker in the mail. (Every eight years, customers need to visit an office to get an updated photo).


Customers can get a duplicate vehicle registration or title, and change/update their address and personal information. You can even join the organ donor registry, all from the comfort of your home, library, office or on the go.

ExpressSOS.com, launched in 2011 and having conducted 9.6 million online transactions, saves customers the trip and avoiding standing in a line.


Customers may call the Department of State Information Center to speak to a customer-service representative at 888-SOS-MICH (767-6424).


Save Your Time Using MI-TIME

A visit to the SoS is no longer a call for SOS!
A visit to the SoS is no longer a call for SOS!

“I can’t wait for my visit to the Secretary of State!” – Said no one, ever.

A visit to the Secretary of State is a mystery and a hassle. It’s impossible to know exactly how long the wait will be or what to expect upon arrival. A trip to renew a drivers’ license was seen as a burden with no sense of convenience… until the Secretary of State introduced MI-TIME back in February of 2014.

The popular “get-in-line-online” service was installed in the 10 busiest offices around the state starting in February 2014. The revolutionary service was added to eight more offices late this summer, boosting the number of users to 2 million. For the first time at Secretary of State offices, customers now can make appointments for transactions.

MI-Time Line“Customers love this service because it’s all about convenience,” stated Secretary of State Ruth Johnson. “You can sign up for an appointment online, by phone or from the office, and then go about your business until it’s almost your turn. The feedback has been tremendous.”

About that feedback, one happy customer took to social media to call MI-TIME Line, “The greatest idea, since the bottle opener, is the online wait-in-line function at the @MichSoS. 13 minutes and out the door.”

When you sign into MI-TIME Line, it estimates your wait time, and if you have a phone or texting capability, the system will call or text you when your turn is coming up. You can also ask for more time if you’re not ready to come into the office when alerted.

When a transaction must be made in person, such as first-time license application or a title transfer, you can save time by going to an office that offers the MI-TIME Line service. Customers can get in line online in Genesee, Ingham, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kent, Macomb, Oakland and Wayne county.

You can find out specific MI-TIME Line locations here. If the service isn’t offered in your area, the Branch Office Locator will show you locations and hours of operation for nearby Secretary of State offices.

Presidential Primary List Released

Primary 2016The Michigan Department of State yesterday released the 2016 presidential primary candidate list. The list is available online.

Under state law, the department is required to create a list of presidential candidates “generally advocated by the national news media to be potential presidential candidates” for the Republican and Democratic parties for the presidential primary election.

The chairs of the Michigan Democratic and Republican parties now have until 4 p.m., Nov. 17, to add names of other candidates to the candidate list for their party. A candidate on the list who wishes to withdraw has until 4 p.m., Dec. 11, to notify the department that he or she is not a presidential candidate.

Candidates not placed on the list by the department or the party chairs may collect signatures to be placed on the ballot.

The Michigan presidential primary will be March 8, 2016. Besides the candidates listed on the ballot, voters also may choose “uncommitted” as an option. In addition to the presidential primary, residents in some communities also may be voting on local ballot proposals or for special elections to fill vacancies.

Voters will be able to view their March 8 sample ballot online closer to Election Day to review any other elections occurring that day.

Thank a Veteran on Veteran’s Day

Veterans' Day graphicSecretary of State Ruth Johnson reminds residents that, in honor of Veterans Day, all Secretary of State offices and the Office of the Great Seal will be closed Wednesday, Nov. 11. She also encouraged people to thank veterans for their service and sacrifice.

“I had a rare opportunity to visit our troops in the Middle East in 2012 to study how to make overseas voting easier for those in the military,” Johnson said. “I will never forget the sense of honor, duty and patriotism that those young men and women displayed in spite of the terrible conditions. We owe everyone who has ever served this country a great debt for their service and sacrifice.”

Michigan is home to more than 680,000 veterans, the 11th largest population nationally. Given the great number of veterans who live here, Johnson has unveiled a number of initiatives in support of them:

•    Creating a veteran designation on driver’s licenses and state ID cards that helps identify Michigan veterans so they can be connected with the benefits they have earned and deserved.
•    Pushing new ways to ensure that military personnel have their votes counted on Election Day, such as successfully advocating to extend a federal write-in ballot to state and local races.
•    Waiving road tests for veterans applying for a Commercial Driver License to help their transition to civilian life if they have sufficient heavy truck experience in the military.
•    Offering more than two dozen military license plates that are available for veterans and their spouses, allowing them to display their service with pride.

“Patriotism and service run deep in Michigan,” Johnson added. “This Veterans Day, take a moment to thank a vet for his or her service.”

Because of the Veterans Day closure, Johnson recommends residents find alternate ways or days to get their Secretary of State business done.

Every Vote Counts: Cast Your Ballot on November 3rd

VoteAttention to all eligible voters, don’t forget to cast your ballots in local elections Tuesday, Nov. 3!

“Voting for schools and libraries, cities and townships, means your voice is being heard right in your community,” Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said. “If your municipality is holding an election, please take a few minutes to cast your ballot.”

The polls will be open on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. 74 counties in Michigan are holding elections.

To find out if there is an election in your respective Wyoming or Kentwood precinct, and to view your sample ballot, visit the Michigan Voter Information Center. The website is a great online resource for voters. There you can find your polling location or track your absentee ballots to confirm it has been received by the local clerk.

There is still time for voters to obtain an absentee ballot. As a registered voter, you may obtain an absentee ballot if you are:

-Age 60 or older.
-Physically unable to attend the polls without the assistance of another.
-Expecting to be out-of-town for the entire time the polls are open on Election Day.
-In jail awaiting arraignment or trial.
-Unable to attend the polls due to religious reasons.
-Appointed to work as an election inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence.

Every Vote CountsThose who wish to receive their absentee ballot by mail must submit their application by 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31. Absentee ballots can be obtained in person anytime through 4 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 2. Voters who request an absentee ballot in person on Monday must fill out the ballot in the clerk’s office. Emergency absentee ballots are available under certain conditions through 4 p.m. on Election Day.

Residents who registered to vote by mail or via a voter registration drive and have never voted in Michigan are not eligible to vote by absentee ballot in their first election. They must vote in person at their precinct. This restriction does not apply to voters who are overseas, disabled or 60 or older.

Voters must fulfill identification requirements under Michigan law. They will be asked to present valid photo ID at the polls, such as a Michigan driver’s license or identification card. Anyone who does not have an acceptable form of photo ID ,or failed to bring it with them, may still vote. They will sign a brief affidavit stating that they’re not in possession of a photo ID. Their ballots will be included with all others and counted on Election Day.

Voters obtaining absentee ballots in person must meet the same photo identification requirement as voters who cast ballots in the polling place.

Under Michigan law, voters will also be presented with an application at the polls. By signing the application, the voter certifies that he or she is a U.S. citizen.

A specially equipped voting station called the AutoMARK Voter Assist Terminal is also available at each polling location for use by voters with disabilities.

Grand Valley State University hosts Secretary of State Mobile Office

Grand Valley State UniversitySecretary of State Ruth Johnson announced today that the Mobile Office is offering voter registration and other services during a stop at Grand Valley State University in Allendale on Wednesday, Oct. 14 and Thursday, Oct. 15.

“College students often have questions about where to register to vote or how to get an absentee ballot,” Johnson said. “For these reasons I encourage students to stop by the Mobile Office while it’s on campus. In addition, they, as well as faculty, staff and members of the public, are welcome to come by to take care of any business they may have with the Secretary of State’s office.”

The Mobile Office will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. near the Translink statue by the Arboretum, 1 W. Campus Drive, Allendale.

Mobile Voter Trailer“It’s important that we bring the Mobile Secretary of State Office to campus because it gives more students access to reliable, convenient voter registration information,” said Maddie Cleghorn, president of the GVSU Student Senate. “Students are much more likely to engage in the democratic process if the resource is on campus, because it eliminates the step of actually driving to an office. With 2016 coming up as such an important election year, I think it is our responsibility to make sure students have access to the tools that will help them become engaged, informed voters.”

The Mobile Office is a full-service office and visitors can take care of other Secretary of State business at this event, including renewing driver’s licenses, getting instant titles or joining the Michigan Organ Donor Registry.

Don’t forget to visit the online Michigan Voter Information Center, a single, comprehensive source designed for voter convenience at www.Michigan.gov/vote . The site contains sample ballots, as well as information on absentee ballots, polling locations, voting systems and candidates. A mobile version is also available.

Voter Registration Deadline for November Election Nears

Every Vote CountsMichigan residents have until Monday, Oct. 5, to register to vote in the Nov. 3 election, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson announced today.

“Of Michigan’s 83 counties, 74 will hold local November elections for cities and school districts,” said Johnson, Michigan’s chief election officer. “I encourage all Michigan residents qualified to vote to get registered and then cast a ballot on Election Day.”

The November election also features three state House special primary elections for districts representing Grand Rapids, and Allegan and Lapeer counties. The winners of the special primary will move on to the special general election March 8. A full list of jurisdictions with elections can be found online.

To register to vote, applicants must be at least 18 years old by Election Day and U.S. citizens. Applicants also must be residents of Michigan and of the city or township in which they wish to register. Polls will be open on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. To find out if their community is holding an election, voters can visit www.Michigan.gov/vote for more information.

Voters may register by mail or in person at their county, city or township clerk’s office or by visiting any Secretary of State office. The mail-in form is available at www.Michigan.gov/elections. First-time voters who register by mail must vote in person in their first election, unless they hand-deliver the application to their local clerk, are 60 years old or older, are disabled or are eligible to vote under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.

To check their registration status, residents may visit the Michigan Voter Information Center at www.Michigan.gov/vote. They can see their sample ballot and find their polling place. Residents also can find information on absentee voting, Michigan’s voter identification requirement, how to use voting equipment and how to contact their local clerk. The site can be easily viewed on a smartphone.

Voters who qualify may choose to cast an absentee ballot. As a registered voter, you may obtain an absentee ballot if you are age 60 or older; physically unable to attend the polls without the assistance of another; expecting to be absent from the community in which you are registered for the entire time the polls will be open on Election Day; in jail awaiting arraignment or trial; unable to attend the polls due to religious reasons or will be working as an election inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence.

Absentee BallotThose who wish to receive their absentee ballot by mail must submit their application by 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31. Absentee ballots can be obtained in person anytime through 4 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2. Voters who request an absentee ballot in person on Monday, Nov. 2, must fill out the ballot in the clerk’s office. Emergency absentee ballots are available under certain conditions through 4 p.m. on Election Day.

As a reminder, voters will be asked to provide identification when at the polls on Election Day or if obtaining an absentee ballot in person from the clerk’s office. They will be asked to present valid photo ID, such as a Michigan driver’s license or identification card. Anyone who does not have an acceptable form of photo ID or failed to bring it with them can still vote. They will be required to sign a brief affidavit stating that they’re not in possession of photo ID. Their ballot will be included with all others and counted on Election Day.

Voters who don’t have a Michigan driver’s license or identification card can show the following forms of photo ID, as long as they are current:

  • Driver’s license or personal identification card issued by another state.
  • Federal or state government-issued photo identification.
  • U.S. passport.
  • Military identification card with photo.
  • Student identification with photo from a high school or an accredited institution of higher education, such as a college or university.
  • Tribal identification card with photo.

Secretary of State Offices Join 25th Annual Harvest Gathering Food Drive

MHG_25Year_Logo_Badge (2)Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson today encouraged people across the state to participate in the 25th Annual Michigan Harvest Gathering food drive.

Johnson and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette joined the Food Bank Council of Michigan in promoting the campaign during an event at the Lansing City Market today. Schuette and his wife co-founded the annual effort in 1991.

“For 25 years, the Harvest Gathering campaign has seen the people of our great state stand together to not only feed the hungry but to bring them hope,” Johnson said. “Michigan families saw some dark days during those 25 years but Harvest Gathering has never let those families down. I want to thank everyone here today, from the people working the food banks to the truck drivers, sponsors and office workers, for keeping the momentum going.”

Johnson also praised Secretary of State staff for making the food drive so successful every year. Since 2011, Secretary of State offices have collected almost 30 tons of food donations. The Secretary of State portion of the Harvest Gathering campaign runs through Nov. 25 this year.

“Secretary of State offices throughout Michigan have provided vital outreach into local communities for this campaign,” said Phillip Knight, executive director of the Food Bank Council of Michigan. “Michigan Harvest Gathering could not be celebrating this milestone year without the support of such dedicated partners in hunger relief.”

In Michigan, 16 percent of households struggle to put food on the table and 21 percent of children don’t know where their next meal will come from, according to the Food Bank Council of Michigan. The organization coordinates the program, which supplies the state’s regional food banks through donations of food and money. The regional food banks serve food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters in every Michigan county.

In 2014, the entire Michigan Harvest Gathering campaign collected 386,922 pounds (193 tons) of food and more than $375,000. This year, the campaign’s goal is to collect enough food and funds for two million meals.

Nonperishable food items with a valid expiration date can be dropped off at any Secretary of State office.

Food items especially needed include: canned meats, dry beans, soups, beef stew, pasta products, peanut butter and tuna. Other items include baby food or formula, diapers, soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes. The Food Bank requests donors avoid items in glass, as they often break in transit. Financial donations may be made online at www.feedmichigan.org.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

The Recreation Passport is your key to winter fun at state parks

recreation Passport


Whether you ski, sled, toboggan, ice fish, snowmobile or snowshoe, Michigan’s state parks offer lots of seasonal fun. Michigan motorists can get in on the fun by buying a Recreation Passport when they renew their plate tabs or get a new plate, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson reminded residents today.


Many state parks offer snowmobiling, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing opportunities and events, among other wintertime outdoor activities, and state boat launches are great places for anglers to find new ice-fishing spots. Select state parks offer winter camping opportunities in lodges, yurts, tepees and several types of cabins.


“Winter is a great time of year and offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation,” said Johnson, who loves the outdoors and has been known to kayak in January. “I encourage people renewing their plate tab to help support Michigan’s exceptional parks by buying a Recreation Passport. For only $11, the natural wonder of Michigan’s woods and waters can be yours all year long.”


The Recreation Passport allows Michigan motorists the option of paying an additional $11 per vehicle, or $5 per motorcycle, when renewing a vehicle registration or registering a new vehicle. The letter “P” is printed on the vehicle tab of people who have bought the Recreation Passport. The passport allows entry into Michigan state parks and recreational areas, forest campgrounds, and boat launch and nonmotorized trail head parking for no additional cost.


“Michigan’s state parks, trails, boat launches and other outdoor spaces are true treasures. They make our state a great place to live, work and play,” said Department of Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh. “Checking ‘yes’ to the Recreation Passport allows people to enjoy these treasures and ensures that these important natural areas will be around for generations to come.”


A nonresident vehicle Recreation Passport is available at any state park or online at www.michigan.gov/estore.


Motorists can renew plates for individually owned or leased cars, pickup trucks, vans and motorcycles up to six months before they expire. Most customers can renew online at ExpressSOS.com, which features Print N Go technology, allowing users to buy their tabs online, print off a receipt and carry the receipt as proof of renewal until their tabs arrive in the mail. Tabs may also be renewed through the mail or at a Secretary of State office. License plates that expire on a day when state offices are closed can be renewed the next business day without penalty.


In FY 2014, more than 1.9 million Recreation Passports were issued, generating almost $21 million for state parks.


Learn more about the state parks Recreation Passport at www.Michigan.gov/recreationpassport.

Save time in line at Secretary of State offices starting now!

By Gisgie Dávila Gendreau
Secretary of State office

Ever stood in line for hours at the Secretary of State office and  become frustrated, irritable and impatient?   Those frustrations can now be alleviated.


Don’t want to wait in person? MI-TIME Line allows customers to check in online, or by phone, to hold their place in line at their local branch Secretary of State Ruth Johnson today announced that 10 of the busiest Secretary of State offices will pilot innovative customer service technology to reduce wait times by letting customers schedule appointments and get in line from a home computer, with a phone call or via text message.


It will even call or send a text message when the customer is about to be called. Customers who don’t have a mobile phone can stop by the office, check in at a special MI-TIME Line kiosk and head out of the office to run errands while they wait.


“We all lead busy lives and we know that our customers’ time is important,” said Johnson. “Our MI-TIME Line service will revolutionize how we serve customers in our busiest Secretary of State offices. Now you can get in line online and come to the office just before you’re about to be called. Spend the time you save shopping nearby, running errands or being with family. We’ll let you know when it’s almost your turn.”


Johnson made today’s announcement at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, where visitors can interact with the new technology at the Secretary of State display to see how easy it is to use.


The 10 offices that will be using the new system together handle more than two million transactions every year.


The system had a “soft launch” last week in the Flint Area SUPER!Center and the Capital Area SUPER!Center in Lansing and Secretary of State officials say it’s been well received by customers.


It will debut in the coming weeks in five other SUPER!Centers, which are among the largest and busiest offices, including Clinton Township, Detroit, Livonia and Pontiac. Offices in Southfield, Taylor and Troy also will shortly feature the service.


The Secretary of State’s website at www.michigan.gov/sos will have links to the participating offices and customers can also find participating offices on the Branch Office Locator by searching for “Get in Line Online” offices.


To offer this cutting-edge customer-service technology, the Secretary of State’s Office partnered with United States-based QLess, whose line-management service has been successfully used by other driver and motor vehicle agencies, amusement parks, shopping malls, and health care and educational facilities to reduce wait times.


“We are excited to have our service used in the busiest Michigan Secretary of State offices,” said QLess CEO and Founder Alex Bäcker. “QLess has saved customers across the globe more than 370 years from waiting in line, and we look forward to saving Michigan residents’ time and making their visits to a Secretary of State office more enjoyable. With the MI-TIME Line technology, people can get in line from home and be notified when it’s time to head in without waiting long in the lobby.


”The North American International Auto Show runs through Sunday, Jan. 26, at the Cobo Center. The Michigan Secretary of State display, including the full-service Mobile Office, is on the concourse outside of the Macomb Hall entrance. The Mobile Office is ready to serve customers at the show and will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends and noon to 6 p.m. on weekdays. On Sunday, the office will be open until 7 p.m.


The new technology is the latest in Johnson’s efforts to improve customer service. In 2011, she launched ExpressSOS.com to offer some of the department’s most popular services online. As part of ExpressSOS.com, customers can use the special Print-and-Go service that allows customers to print off a proof of purchase for tabs to carry until their tabs arrive in the mail.


Johnson also partnered with Michigan retail giant Meijer to install self-serve kiosks in two of their stores.



Save Time