By Jessica Mathews /

The tradition of walking into a Secretary of State office and taking a number is over.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson held a virtual press conference Thursday to announce all branch offices will be moving to appointment only - making permanent a change that was initially done to curb COVID-19. Gone for good is the pre-pandemic ability to go to a branch and wait in line. Benson called it an “antiquated, inefficient, take-a-number system that nobody liked”.

Benson says technology upgrades have taken place over the past few weeks so that people can now carry out most of their transactions online or at self-service stations without having to visit a branch office. That includes renewing driver’s licenses, ID’s and license plates. Benson says they’re replacing the antiquated system with an efficient, streamlined appointment process and data shows that customers don’t want to go backward to the old way of doing things.

Benson commented that the repeated legislative extensions of the renewal deadline for registrations and ID’s created a looming backlog of transactions that have created short-term inefficiencies in how appointments are available. She says they’re working to optimize the appointment system to better match the supply of appointments available to demand.

Benson says the department will be hosting pop-up offices and increasing branch appointments by at least 10% in the coming months and tightening scheduling to operate as efficiently as possible. She said advance and next day appointments will be available for those who want to plan ahead or others who need immediate branch office transactions – noting every day at 8am and noon offices release thousands of next day appointments. There will also be dedicated call center staff to book online appointments for residents with internet limitations. The changes are expected to allow the government to serve roughly 35,000 more residents a month.

More information is available in the attached press release.