SHAMOKIN — It was standing room only just five minutes into an event for people wanting to pre-qualify for REAL IDS Thursday evening at the Knights of Columbus.
Residents from throughout the area crowded the organization’s banquet hall while waiting their turn to sit down with PennDOT staff at mobile driver licensing workstations.
Rep. Kurt Masser’s office scheduled the three-hour event for people wanting to pre-verify their eligibility for a REAL ID. Interested parties were asked to bring original documents or certified copies stating proof of identity, such as a passport, certificate of naturalization and birth certificate with a raised seal issued by an authorized government agency.
Those who successfully completed the process are eligible for a REAL ID when PennDOT makes them available in March. They will be able to apply online for their REAL ID, pay the applicable fees and have it mailed to them within 10 business days. A visit to a PennDOT driver license center will not be needed.
Passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act enacted the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that the Federal Government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” The act established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and IDs and prohibits federal agencies from accepting licenses and IDs from states that do not meet the standards.
Starting Oct. 1, 2020, every Pennsylvania resident will need to present a REAL ID or another acceptable form of identification — such as a passport or military ID — to access federal facilities, enter nuclear power plants and board commercial aircraft.
The act does not require individuals to present REAL IDs where it is not currently required to access a federal facility (such as the Smithsonian), voting, participating in law enforcement proceedings and being licensed by a state to drive.
“I understand it can be difficult for people to make it to the driver’s license center, so I wanted to give them this additional opportunity,” Masser had stated about Thursday’s event.
Though some people were successful in pre-qualifying, others did not because they had improper paperwork. People were declined for various reasons, including marriage certificates issued by a church instead of a government agency and photocopies of birth certificates.
Harold Hurst and Christine Jacoby, from Masser’s office, were on-hand to assist people in applying for birth certificates and for general help as needed. Masser, who was in the state capitol, was unable to attend.
Hurst said Masser plans to hold additional REAL ID events in the Shamokin, Elysburg and Danville areas next year. Details will be released at a later date.