by Matt Long, SCRN
South Carolina’s governor is asking the federal government to continue recognizing the state’s drivers’ licenses, despite the fact that they don’t follow a national security rule. Governor Mark Sanford is asking the Homeland Security Department to continue allow South Carolinians to use their drivers’ licenses to board airplanes and enter federal buildings.
In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano last week, Sanford updated the state’s progress in following new federal guidelines. However, he says South Carolina’s licenses already follow 90 percent of the law and that the new requirements are too expensive – -especially since the mandates have no federal funding attached. Sanford also fears REAL IDs are de facto national identification cards, which he says are unconstitutional.
At issue is a new federal identification system known as REAL ID. REAL ID sets strict standards for state identification cards. Some of the requirements include a digital photograph, signature, and machine-readable features, such as a bar code.
Even if Sanford supported REAL IDs, he would be limited by a 2007 state law that bars him from complying. South Carolina is one of 13 states that refuses to pay for cards conforming to REAL ID standards.
The Homeland Security Department last year granted the state an indefinite extension to implement new cards. South Carolina and other states had until December to comply with the law, but the department granted temporary exemptions, allowing residents to continue using their licenses for travel and entrances to federal buildings.