Real ID Act requires state identification card update, security measures enforced

Illinois is attempting to meet state identification and driver’s license requirements set by the Real ID Act, passed in 2005, before air travel restrictions are enforced in the upcoming year. As of right now, Illinois meets only the minimum requirements but does not require items such as a birth certificate as proof of identity when applying for a driver’s license.

The act was created following the 9/11 attacks in an attempt to reduce the chances of terrorists or identity thieves from obtaining fake IDs. The extra steps taken when applying for identification are used to provide better security to one’s personal information. Documents used for receiving a driver’s license are stored physically and scanned electronically so the information can be easily shared to other states and the government.

“If you join Real ID, it’s not really about what Illinois does,” said Ed Yohnka, American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois spokesman. “It’s about what Utah or Rhode Island or Mississippi does. I think there’s been a lot of reluctance and hesitation on part of legislators to make themselves a part of that system and putting people’s identity and personal information at risk based on the security or safety of some other state.”

To enhance security, separate facilities would need to be created specifically for receiving a license that complies with the act. Due to this, licenses will be sent via mail instead of received in person. These changes would be done in order to meet security criteria set for the state.

“For those with social security cards, things have not changed that much, other than the state is more strict on identification,” said Kasey Clausen, Adams School of Driving President. “But for those without social security cards, things are tougher. Appointments must be made at designated Secretary of State’s offices for testing, specific identification is required and once issued the permit and/or license is mailed to the person.”

In December of last year, the Department of Homeland Security asked the 21 states that were granted extensions to adopt the act by Oct. 1, 2020. Those who live in states that do not currently follow the act may be forced to present other identification information—such as a passport—to airlines.

The act raises some concerns in regards to security and costs. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, Henry Haupt, Secretary of State for spokesman, said that using the security and implementing birth certificates could cost about $3.75 million dollars each year. The Real ID licenses are estimated to cost $75, an increase compared to $30 it currently costs.

“[Illinois] does not have a budget surplus to pull this out of,” Yohnka said. “The only way you can do this is to pass the cost onto each individual consumer as they get one of these compliant IDs.”

Although satisifying the full requirements to meet security standards for Illinois will be costly, the act is in place to help prevent fraud and stolen identities. By following the steps set in the act, the chances of an identity being stolen are expected to be reduced, as well as the number of terrorist attempts, especially when boarding airplanes.