Just one week before an extension was set to expire for Oklahoma to be Real ID compliant, the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety announced Thursday that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has granted Oklahoma's REAL ID extension through September 18, 2020.
Simply, what this means is that Oklahomans can continue boarding planes and entering federal facilities without a special state issued ID.
Beatrice Williamson of Oklahoma City is flying to Kenya Thursday, October 3. And when she made the plans, she wasn’t sure whether she could come home.
“I just really would love for all these things to be fixed, because people like me who travel a lot. I want to make sure that if I get out of the country, I can come back in sound and safe,” said Williamson.
Williamson is one of thousands of Oklahoma travelers relieved the Department of Homeland Security granted the state another extension on Real ID compliance.
In the wake of the September 11th attacks, congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005 to make licenses more difficult to forge. Oklahoma resisted, concerned about federal over-reach, but eventually backed down in 2017.
“So, from that point we had to bid it out, find a vender for this. And all along we said it would take about 24 to 30 months from the time we sign with a vendor before we are ready to issue Real ID’s. We are about on track with that,” said Sarah Stewart Oklahoma Department of Public Safety.
But it’s no easy task. The state has to set up the infrastructure to scan documents at 36 DPS facilities and 249 tag agencies that issue licenses.
“We have to scan them and keep them, and so we didn’t have the ability to do that right now. So, we are having to modernize our entire system. And there’s a lot that goes into it,” said Stewart.
Governor Kevin Stitt insists this will be the last extension needed to bring the state into compliance.
“We understand peoples’ frustration. We’re right there with them. This is our number one priority and we’re throwing every resource available, and we’re working on this every day all day long,” said Stewart.
“Just fix it,” said Williamson. “Just fix it.“
The state says it’s on track to begin issuing Read ID drivers licenses April 30 of next year.