Ruth Johnson makes stop at local SOS office

ALPENA Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson visited the Alpena Branch Secretary of State office on Thursday to congratulate the staff for their hard work and spread the word about the online filing options available to the public through Express SOS.

“The positive comments from these branches in the area are high,” Johnson said. “I’m very proud of our staff. They are doing a great job. I appreciate the time they give to suggest ideas and changes.”

Due to budget constraints, the Secretary of State offices in Michigan have had a 25 percent staff reduction from 10 years ago, forcing the existing staff to handle the same number of customers without the extra help. This is one of the reasons the new online Express SOS was put into place, to alleviate the travel, waiting and long lines at branches across Michigan.

“The more we can have done online, the more efficient we’ll be,” Johnson said. “There are so many things you can do on Express SOS.”

Some of the available services online include driver’s license renewal, vehicle plate/tab renewal, watercraft renewal, replacement and renewal of State ID cards, address updates, various complaint forms, organ donor registry, and many other renewals and reference resources.

The Secretary of State offices are working on improving options for veterans, including easier election and voting options and a designation on a veteran’s drivers license, indicating they have served.

“It won’t be ready until next year,” Johnson said about the licenses, adding that she hopes seeing the mark on the license of a veteran will encourage people to thank them for their service.

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.