Secretary of State candidates disagree over Real ID compliance

  • Jason Helland

    Jason Helland

  • Jesse White

    Jesse White

  • Steve Dutner

    Steve Dutner

Updated 10/26/2018 10:44 AM

The Republican candidate for Illinois secretary of state says incumbent Jesse White's failure to comply with 2005's Real ID Act should cost the Chicago Democrat his job.

"That law was passed 13 years ago," said Republican opponent Jason Helland, state's attorney for Grundy County. "If I'm not compliant with the law ... I'd expect to lose my job."


According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Illinois is one of 15 states that has not yet complied with the act requiring minimum security standards for state-issued driver's licenses and identification cards. Illinois and the other 14 states have been granted extensions according to the DHS website. However, beginning Oct. 1, 2020, every state and territory resident must present a Real ID compliant license -- or an alternative such as a passport -- to access federal facilities and board commercial aircraft.

Helland says the state's noncompliance means Illinois residents will require a passport to fly even to Milwaukee.

White disputes Helland's claim. In an email to the Daily Herald, White said the extension allows residents to use their license or ID to board domestic flights, visit military bases and federal facilities.

Referring to what he called the "unfunded federal Real ID Act," White indicated the state will be fully compliant by next year and "will begin to issue Real ID driver's licenses and ID cards statewide next spring to residents who want them."

Helland says there's no excuse for not following the law.

"I have a hard time believing that the financial problems of the state have hindered him for 13 years," Helland said. "Laws aren't suggestions. Laws are to be complied with."

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White says the office has taken steps to meet federal guidelines by embedding "high-tech security features" in licenses and IDs and overhauling how they are issued. Since May 2016, instead of issuing licenses and IDs over-the-counter at state facilities, they've been issued from a central distribution center to enhance security, White said.

The Real ID act was designed to prevent the use of fake licenses to fly or access a federal building.

Libertarian candidate Steve Dutner, of Elgin, did not respond to a request for comment.

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