Editorial: Illinois duty to cut REAL ID lines
In a prominently placed box bordered in red, the Illinois Secretary of State's website warns: "Due to the federally mandated REAL ID program, wait times at Driver Services facilities have increased."
Anyone who's recently spent hours in line at suburban Secretary of State locations can attest to that as frustrated residents try to navigate the road to REAL ID, an enhanced identification for air travelers mandated after 9/11.
The deadline is now less than a year away. By Oct. 1, 2020, you will need an updated driver's license or state-issued ID card with a gold star to fly within the U.S. To get that new license, you need documentation -- very specific kinds of documentation.
Thus, the waits.
And sometimes, the Secretary of State's website warns, those waits get so long that the office has to stop certain services, including driving tests.
Recently, the Secretary of State's office opened locations in Deerfield, Naperville and Schaumburg on days when those facilities are normally closed. To let people know, staff members passed out flyers and posted the extra days on cyberdriveillinois.com.
It's a step in the right direction, one the office should strongly consider repeating in the coming months.
The Secretary of State also offers mobile offices in places such as senior centers or park district buildings. Those won't work for people seeking REAL ID. But they will assist those with less time-consuming requests such as regular license renewals and stickers.
That will help ease waits, but only if the Secretary of State's office and the site locations get the word out. And we'll do our part by letting you know that upcoming dates include Nov. 5, at the Algonquin Township Hall in Crystal Lake; Nov. 7, at the Fremont Township building in Mundelein; and Dec. 2, at the Peterson Park building in Buffalo Grove.
The mobile office concept is another positive move. But more needs to be done, however, to make the REAL ID process smoother -- and clearer.
On cyberdriveillinois.com, the documentation you need to get REAL ID is spelled out in steps that could benefit from further elaboration. For example, everyone needs two documents that prove residency, such as a utility bill, deed or a bank statement, the site says.
What it doesn't say is that the bank statement needs to show activity or you risk being turned down -- necessitating another visit, more lines and the risk of having your current license expire before the whole mess is sorted out.
Of course, we are all going to need a little patience as we inch toward the 2020 deadline. And we should extend that to the Secretary of State employees who are slogging through the REAL ID process with us.