A new bill from a Michigan lawmaker is aimed at shutting down a black market that's developed online for Secretary of State appointments.

During the pandemic, walk-in access to Secretary of State offices was shut down as they closed along with other state buildings and services. With the shut down all appointments were switched to online only. Subsequently, when offices re-opened, only rescheduled appointments were allowed. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson then announced that all visits to SOS offices would be appointment only.

The pandemic backlog of those trying to register vehicles, renew tags, and update licenses caused the new system to quickly become backed up, and an online black market for appointments to emerge.

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With appointments being sold on Facebook marketplace and craigslist, lawmaker Rep. Ranjeev Puri of Canton has proposed a bill that would make the sale of Secretary of State appointments by a third party a crime.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson's office currently supports the legislation, which would codify policies already in place at branch offices.

Rep. Puri tells the Detroit News he became aware of the issue when constituents told him they were seeing appointments for sale online:

We just didn’t think it was right to profit off of other people’s hardship. We’re still kind of unpacking how this is happening. We don’t want to stop the ability to transfer because there’s obviously a need for those who are helping others and acting in good faith.

The proposal would allow the Attorney General's office to take direct action against platforms that allow the sale of the appointments online. This would push sites like Facebook and craigslist to monitor these types of sales, or face repercussions.

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