Marriage License Applications Go Online

June 17, 2021 by Meredith Trimble

Marriage License Applications Go Online

The COVID-19 pandemic affected government operations across all jurisdictions. Many citizens may not realize that as buildings closed and services shifted to virtual, all processes were impacted, even those necessary for life events, such as obtaining marriage licenses.

According to Edward Golembiewski, chief deputy clerk/register & director of elections, Washtenaw County Michigan, “As is the case for so many organizations, the COVID-19 pandemic immediately and dramatically impacted the Washtenaw County Clerk/Register Vital Records division and created significant challenges to overcome. In many ways we were well-positioned to meet these challenges, having worked to provide the public with expanded online service options over the course of many years. However, we had never been in a position where remote service was nearly the only option. A particularly acute challenge we faced at the onset of the pandemic was providing a means for the public to apply for a marriage license without being physically present in our office.”

Because Washtenaw County already used self-service software, applicants could populate a marriage affidavit online, but it was still necessary for at least one party to physically appear at the office for the clerk’s witness and to pay the fee.

To comply with distancing measures and ensure everyone’s safety, a fully remote process became essential. “We created a virtual marriage application process — a kind of self-service ‘wizard’ — for customers to complete each step of the application in order,” Golembiewski explained. By pairing the existing self-service platform with other technology solutions, his team added steps to allow patrons to securely upload required documents, schedule virtual appointments for the witness, and pay the application fee online.

The new process proved extremely convenient for applicants. It also relieved staff of extra work by streamlining the affidavit process. With software integrations, the new system provided the affidavit electronically to applicants before their virtual appointment. This eliminated same-day manual preparation, emailing, and printing as well as manually adding in credit card payments and receipts to the paperwork.

Offering the community a way to interact without needing to be present was essential during the pandemic and will likely continue into the future for better customer service and new efficiencies for staff. This new way forward, which earned the county a 2021 Tyler Excellence Award, illustrates how dedicated staff and powerful solutions can unite more than just processes — they can unite people, too.

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