New York state is following other states by drastically cutting its number of driver’s licenses. Just like Pennsylvania and New Jersey, which have also begun reducing their cards, New York lawmakers are moving toward a universal ID card that will be valid for travel throughout the country, particularly in border areas and in places where dual state ID cards are required (sheriff departments, for example). It will be only available for identification purposes but it may be the starting point of legislation to make all types of IDs, including those for voting, more secure, since the standard, homegrown New York drivers’ license expires after 10 years.
“A universal ID card is going to make all IDs more secure, not just drivers’ licenses,” New York State Sen. Jesse Hamilton, a Democrat from Brooklyn, told the New York Times. The move, though controversial, has been pursued for more than a decade. In 2011, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed legislation urging New York to abandon its “bare-bones” license system and switch to one that better matched the state’s progressive reputation. After reaching a deal with the state’s powerful motor vehicle department, the bill became law. But critics of the mandatory change say it will be made at the expense of efforts to tighten the security of driver’s licenses, the most common form of identification in the United States.