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Maryland Bungles New Driver’s License Rollout. Hundreds Of Thousands Were Forced To Go To The DMV.

flag of maryland waving with highly detailed textile texture pattern
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The government is notorious for failing to rollout new programs. One need not look further than the debacle of the healthcare.gov website for Obamacare back in 2013.

 

State’s also fail quite spectacularly in their own rollouts — and the people hurt the most are always the taxpayers who had nothing to do with the program.

In 2016, Maryland revealed new driver’s licenses that featured the state’s flag and enhanced security features. The new licenses cost the state $3.5 million. The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA, Maryland’s version of the DMV) mailed more than 1.6 million new licenses and ID cards to residents, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Five months later, they realized they had a major problem on their hands. The Sun obtained emails through a public records request and highlighted the issue:

The MVA had been collecting documentation of age, identity, Social Security and state residency from new Maryland drivers and those moving from other states since 2009. It was information the state needed to have on file by October 2020 for state IDs to comply with federal REAL ID requirements meant to make sure states uniformly authenticated identities.

But MVA had not been collecting that same paperwork from drivers renewing their licenses — more than half of those who received the REAL IDs.

 

This meant that 844,840 residents needed to provide that documentation to the state, according to an email sent from MVA Administrator Christine Nizer to the person in charge of the Department of Homeland Security’s REAL ID program.

Nearly 10% of those people would return within the 2020 deadline to renew their licenses anyway, but that still left 761,235 people forced to make an unscheduled trip to the MVA.

 

Besides the issue of requiring hundreds of thousands of Marylanders to go to the MVA because of a government error, Nizer told DHS the state needed five additional months to upgrade its Driver’s Licensing System “to allow these customers to present and have their documents reviewed and scanned, without obtaining a new product.”

To handle the flood of additional customers (as if the MVA wasn’t slow and crowded already), the agency “expanded hours at many of its locations, hired more staff and opened temporary offices in Parkville and Columbia for REAL ID appointments,” the Sun reported.

The process for bringing in the additional documents started in January 2018, meaning Marylanders now have 16 months left to provide the additional documents before the state’s deadline in October 2020. Residents will need to bring proof of age and identity, such as an original birth certificate or current passport; proof of a social security number, such as an original card or a tax document; and two proofs of Maryland residency, such as a utility bill or vehicle registration.

Have fun, Marylanders.

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