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Illinois Secretary of State Candidate Pat Dowell calls for Digital Driver’s License

Press Release from Secretary of State candidate Pat Dowell

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Illinois Secretary of State Candidate Pat Dowell calls for Digital Driver’s License  (Chicago, IL) – Pat Dowell, candidate for Democratic nominee for Illinois Secretary of State, announced another innovation for the Secretary of State’s office. She proposed the creation of a digital driver’s license that would be available on your phone, like a boarding pass, an idea that is becoming a reality in many states across the country. The digital license would be available to augment a hard copy license.

Dowell said, “Digital driver’s licenses are more secure and more convenient. Whether at an airport security check, a traffic stop, or an age verification, a scan of a driver’s license on your cell phone can quickly give accurate information and save officials and Illinoisans time and trouble. You would be able to access your digital driver’s license on your phone, either through the personal dashboard I’ve proposed or as a standalone app.”

More than a dozen states are exploring the possibility of digital driver’s licenses. Dowell will make sure that Illinois is one of them. While there are risks, Illinois needs to explore them and work through them.

“Illinois cannot afford to be left behind in this digital age. If other states can do digital driver’s licenses, why can’t we?” said Dowell. “In a post-COVID world, we need to use as many digital tools as we can to make it easier and safer for people.”

Dowell emphasized that with proper implementation, these programs can increase convenience and give residents the ability to show only personal information from the license required for a specific interaction. Initially, digital driver’s licenses may be used for:

  • Online authentication: from access control to identity verification
  • Screening at TSA checkpoints
  • Car rental: to identify the renter, ensure their driving privileges, and share the required attributes for the rental contract (name, address etc.)
  • Identity validation or confirmation for hotel check-in, financial institutions, social services
  • Proof of age: where the purchase of age-restricted products, like alcohol, is to be verified by the retailer selling those products

On the federal level, Congress has already passed the REAL ID Modernization Act, and the Department of Homeland Security will work with states as they begin to implement digital driver’s licenses so that these also may be REAL ID compliant. As the SoS improves technology and cyber security, these REAL ID options can become a reality.

Dowell acknowledges there are issues that must be worked through. “We must make sure people’s information is secure,” she said. “And for those who don’t have smartphones or don’t want a digital license, they should still have the option to stay with the hard copy REAL ID.”

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