Beth King and her husband Neil collected all the paperwork they thought they needed and headed to the Harvey County Courthouse to not only renew Beth's driver's license, but to get a “Real ID” and register to vote.
But the birth certificate she had was not accepted, and she left the courthouse empty-handed and frustrated.
The upgraded license reflecting a person’s lawful presence in the United States will contain a gold circle with a star cutout in the corner. That status can be demonstrated by presenting to the state documentation of a Social Security number in addition to a valid passport or birth certificate. In the case of someone whose name has changed from their birth certificate, a legal document showing the name change is required.
It is that birth certificate that can catch some — and what caught King with Harvey County.
In Harvey County, treasurer Becky Fields has instructed driver's license office members to only accept a state-issued birth certificate.
Neil told the Kansan that the birth certificate he and his wife presented was from a county in Ohio. Fields said the document was stamped as a certified copy from a county health department — which is not a state-issued certificate.
“Up until yesterday, that document has been good in every situation,” Neil King said. “It has never been questioned. … They did not recognize it as a state document.”
Every state's birth certificates look a little bit different, and they vary based on the age of the certificate as new security features are added.
“It has to be from the state, it can not be something for a health department,” Fields said. “It can not be from the hospital, or the health department — it has to be from that state. Normally the seal is embossed from the state."
There is training available, and required, by the state of Kansas for all DMV workers.
“It is mandatory, you have to go to fraud training, document fraud training and the while nine yards. That is a requirement from the state,” Fields said.
The Kings also did not have a Social Security card that was not laminated, one of the state requirements. They used other documents that the county driver's licenses office told them they could use to prove identification.
But the birth certificate simply did not work in Harvey County.
The Real ID license identification process has slowed down the process of licenses renewal in Harvey County.
“We have to be sure everyone has the right documents,” Fields said. “It is more documents than normal, and if they don't have the right documents, we have to explain to them why we can't accept what they brought and how to order the document they need. It takes more time.”
That has led to longer waits, and frustrated people.
“There was very little publicity about this, in my opinion,” Fields said. “If I came in to renew my license and had no idea I needed this documentation, I would be upset. .. For the most part, that is the people we have, they are disgusted with the surprise.”
Fields said they can do a license renewal without the Real ID, for now. Those who need to collect new documents can then come back later for a Real ID license, and pay an additional $11 fee.
The Kings ended up going to a driver's license office in Wichita, which they claim accepted all the documents presented.
“If we don't feel like it is the right document, people are welcome to go to a full service office and see,” Fields said. “If a state office wants to take it, that is on them, not us. We are limited service office.”
The new Kansas driver’s license features upgraded security elements and complies with national identification requirements to be implemented by Oct. 1, 2020, for individuals entering federal facilities or boarding domestic flights.