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Oklahoma deals, adapts to Real ID controversy

Governor Mary Fallin signed the Real ID compliance bill last month, which states Oklahoma is working towards becoming compliant with the federal law involving the Real ID Act, a law that works to improve the reliability of state-issued IDs.

According to NewsOK, Oklahoma passed a law in 2007 saying it would not comply with the Real ID Act and received extensions to allow Oklahomans to continue using their non-compliant IDs. Without extensions, federal agencies would have been prohibited from accepting Oklahoma driver’s licenses. A driver’s license must be compliant with the Real ID Act in order to board a commercial aircraft within the United States and enter a military base or courthouse.

The bill Fallin signed gives Oklahomans the choice of a driver’s license that complies with the Real ID Act, however, they still have the option of purchasing a license that is non-compliant.

John Maple, professor of history at Oklahoma Christian University, said it was irresponsible of Oklahoma’s legislatures to say they were not going to do what federal law requires, in regards to the Real ID Act.

“It’s not really thinking things through,” Maple said. “You don’t have to agree or like it, but federal law takes precedence over the states. Without real IDs, Oklahomans would need passports to get on an airplane, onto a military base, or to enter a courthouse. If you want to talk about providing information to the federal government, you provide more on a passport than a driver’s license.”

According to Maple, the Real ID Act will be beneficial in continuing to keep the United States safe.

“Making it more difficult for individuals to fake IDs would in theory make any potential terrorist to work a lot harder to come up with false identification to get into a place where they can commit a high-terrorist act,” Maple said. “It seems to me the more roadblocks we throw in their paths the better. I don’t see a more sophisticated Oklahoma driver’s license a huge price for me or the citizens of Oklahoma to pay.”

Maple said some people have problems with this bill because they see it as federal overreach and an invasion of privacy.

“The federal government is not the enemy,” Maple said. “They can overstep their bounds, but this is a law passed by congress and the way to deal with it is not for state legislatures to say we are not going to obey the law, it is to sue in federal court and have the court system declare it valid or invalid.”

Morgan DeLong, a junior political science major, said the Real ID Act is a combined effort of the states and the federal government to improve the authenticity and reliability of state-issued IDs.

“Oklahoma’s criticism of the act came from concerns of information storage,” DeLong said. “But with a looming deadline from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Oklahoma has through June 6, 2017 to meet the requirements in the act.”

DeLong said she thinks the bill will be valuable to Oklahoma.

“It is crazy to me that it has taken this long for Oklahoma lawmakers to pass a measure that would make all Oklahomans to be compliant with a national law,” DeLong said. “This bill is a great example of bi-partisan effort. I think the legislators understood the necessity and timeliness of this issue. They made a great effort to resolve this error, one that if left unsolved would have been a burden on many Oklahomans.”

According to the Department of Public Safety, states cannot issue Real IDs until the system is in place, which will take 24 to 30 months. Oklahoma will continue to request additional extensions until they are able to issue ID cards compliant with the Real ID Act.

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