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Ask the Times: I.D. blues

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Q. I recently went to the Department of Motor Vehicles office on Reservoir to replace my lost driver's license, and though the clerk could see my license and photograph on her computer, she declined to reissue me a new license without further identification. After I complained to the main office, she finally did issue the license. Have I.D. requirements changed?

A. State rules, ostensibly to protect against identity theft, could make life harder for people with no driver's licenses or state identification cards.

Registered voters don't have to show a valid I.D. to cast their vote, thanks to a court ruling that a law passed in 2013 by the state legislature violated the state Constitution. But if you have lost a valid driver's license, you won't be able to get a new one without showing certain forms of I.D., despite the fact that the state Revenue Department has your driver's license and photograph in its database.

If you have lost your valid license or state I.D., you must produce a primary document (original birth certificate, passport, a Homeland Security photo I.D., U.S. Visa or immigration document) or two secondary documents (out-of-state license, unless expired; out-of-state I.D., unless expired; concealed handgun license; pilot's license; vehicle registration and title; certified school transcript; prison release form; Bureau of Indian Affairs card, but not tribal I.D. card; military I.D. or discharge papers; court order, health insurance card, marriage license; or financial responsibility form.

Getting a birth certificate may seem simple enough — if you live in Arkansas — unless your name has changed, as are many women's names. If you are using your birth certificate, but your name is different from the name on the certificate, you must also bring in proof of name change, such as a marriage license, divorce decree or court order.

The state's online license record doesn't count, according to Department of Finance and Administration spokesman Jake Bleed, because someone could merely look like the person whose photograph appears in the computer record but still not be the person.

Holly Dickson, legal counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, said she was not familiar with the regulations but that it sounded like homeless people or people without resources to get around town to get documentation might be put at a disadvantage by the I.D. requirements.

Bleed said the drivers' license rules were promulgated under the Driver's License Security and Modernization Act of 2005, but the Revenue Office computer program was not modified in 2014 "to require the Revenue Office service representative to indicate what documents they accepted as proof of identity. This was done to stop incidents of identity theft. The State Revenue Offices were reminded of this policy again on November 13, 2015."

There is also a new request from the state to provide your driver's license or state identification number on your state tax return if you are filing online. This is to prevent fraud, workers in the income tax division told the Times. So if you don't have a driver's license or state I.D. number, you must mail your tax return in.

DFA spokesman Bleed said that returns that do not include the numbers will be processed anyway. "At this time, DFA has no plans to require driver's license or state identification data on income tax returns," he wrote in an email.

Bleed said request for the identification numbers was "at the recommendation of a national organization the Federation of Tax Administrators," to protect Arkansas taxpayers.

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