Few line up at Fulton County DMV for licenses

JOHNSTOWN — Fulton County’s state Department of Motor Vehicles office in Johnstown by midweek hadn’t had anyone follow through with formally applying for a New York state driver’s license under the new “Green Light Law” that went into effect Monday.

“We had a few people come in,” Fulton County Clerk Linda Kollar said Wednesday. “They didn’t have the right [documentation].”

Kollar said those were rejected, and the county has had a “few” phone calls regarding the brand new law.

She said there is a standard part of the application in which the applicant can indicate whether they are a citizen to vote.

“They have the option on whether to vote,” Kollar said.

She said if the person checks that they are a citizen, they can vote, but if they check that they aren’t a citizen “they don’t go any further.”

According to the New York state DMV website, the Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act — commonly called the “Green Light Law” — was enacted on June 17. It took effect Monday.

It allows all New Yorkers age 16 and older to apply for a standard, not for federal purpose, non-commercial driver license or learner permit regardless of their citizenship or lawful status in the United States.

Under the act, driver’s license applicants who have never been issued a Social Security number are eligible to apply. You must sign an affidavit (sworn statement) of never having been issued a Social Security number when you apply for a standard driver’s license.

All applicants for a standard driver ‘slicense must show a combination of documents that prove name, date of birth, and New York state residency. The state is also accepting a valid, unexpired foreign passport issued by the country of citizenship; a valid, unexpired consular identification document issued by a consulate; a valid foreign driver’s license that includes a photo, and which is either unexpired or expired for less than 24 months; permanent resident card, which is either unexpired or expired for less than 24 months; Employment Authorization Card, which is either unexpired or expired for less than 24 months; Border Crossing Card; U.S. Municipal ID Card; foreign marriage or divorce record or court issued name change decree; or foreign birth certificate.

Kollar was one of 27 county clerks in New York state who last week formally asked the state to hold off on implementation of the law until Oct. 1, 2020. But she said Wednesday that their effort doesn’t matter at this point because the law went into effect.

The clerks had called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state DMV Commissioner Mark Schroeder to halt implementation of the Driver License Access & Privacy Act immediately for the “safety and security” of all New Yorkers.

A joint news release issued Friday by the clerks stated: “Following two hastily delivered webinars and a conference call, county clerks agree that New York state DMV failed to provide regulations that would ensure the integrity of the identification process for standard driver license applicants.”

“The state DMV has failed to put in place safeguards to prevent someone who has a social security number from signing the affidavit form (NSS-1) claiming they’ve never been issued a social security number, enabling people to conceal their true identities,” the release said. “In fact, state DMV representatives admitted during their conference call with county clerks on Monday, December 9, 2019, that they have no way to check or verify if a person using the affidavit form (NSS-1) in fact was never issued a Social Security number.”

Protesting clerks also felt state DMV failed to apply standards to the translation certification process, allowing anyone regardless of their age or language proficiency to certify a document’s correct translation without any proof.

“The absence of standards to the translation certification process allows for anyone regardless of their relationship to the applicant to certify the translation of documents for anyone, including minors. Furthermore, county DMV representatives have no way of ensuring the correct translation of written documents and have been directed by State officials to simply look for the word ‘certify’ on the document,” the release said. “Because of these lax regulations, implementation of the state law at this time would create unacceptable security risks as the loopholes allow for nefarious people to obtain a New York state standard driver licenses and use it to commit bank fraud, identity theft, credit card fraud, human trafficking, and other criminal activities.”

The release added that “the federal REAL ID Act, which increases security standards for certain state-issued driver licenses and identity documents, goes into effect October, 1, 2020. Implementation of the state law prior to October 1, 2020 would create unacceptable security risks because the lax regulations would allow for nefarious people to obtain a New York State Standard Driver License and use it to board an airplane, enter secure federal buildings, enter military bases or enter nuclear sites for malicious reasons for nine months until the REAL ID Act takes effect.”

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.


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