Illinois Secretary of State Candidate Pat Dowell Responds to Alexi's vanity driver's license proposal

September 7, 2021

Editors Note:

Today, September 7, Alexi Giannoulias released his plan for the Secretary of State’s office to price-gouge residents for vanity pictures on their driver’s licenses.

More than three weeks ago, on August 16, 2021, Pat Dowell released an innovative policy proposal to create a digital driver’s license that would be available on your phone. Dowell’s policies are designed to innovate the Secretary of State’s office and make things more convenient for residents, not nickel and dime them.

Dowell continues to lead in proposing innovative solutions for the Secretary of State’s office, like digital driver’s licenses, an online personal dashboard for each Illinois resident, and doubling the supplier diversity spend at the Secretary of State’s office.

For Immediate Release

Aug 16, 2021

Contact: Kevin Lampe

Phone: 312-617-7288


Illinois Secretary of State Candidate Pat Dowell calls for Digital Driver's License

Pat Dowell, candidate for Democratic nominee for Illinois Secretary of State, announced another innovation for the Secretary of State’s office. She proposed the creation of a digital driver’s license that would be available on your phone, like a boarding pass, an idea that is becoming a reality in many states across the country. The digital license would be available to augment a hard copy license.

Dowell said, “Digital driver’s licenses are more secure and more convenient. Whether at an airport security check, a traffic stop, or an age verification, a scan of a driver’s license on your cell phone can quickly give accurate information and save officials and Illinoisans time and trouble. You would be able to access your digital driver’s license on your phone, either through the personal dashboard I’ve proposed or as a standalone app.”

More than a dozen states are exploring the possibility of digital driver’s licenses. Dowell will make sure that Illinois is one of them. While there are risks, Illinois needs to explore them and work through them.

“Illinois cannot afford to be left behind in this digital age. If other states can do digital driver’s licenses, why can’t we?” said Dowell. “In a post-COVID world, we need to use as many digital tools as we can to make it easier and safer for people.”

Dowell emphasized that with proper implementation, these programs can increase convenience and give residents the ability to show only personal information from the license required for a specific interaction. Initially, digital driver’s licenses may be used for:

  • Online authentication: from access control to identity verification
  • Screening at TSA checkpoints
  • Car rental: to identify the renter, ensure their driving privileges, and share the required attributes for the rental contract (name, address etc.)
  • Identity validation or confirmation for hotel check-in, financial institutions, social services
  • Proof of age: where the purchase of age-restricted products, like alcohol, is to be verified by the retailer selling those products

On the federal level, Congress has already passed the REAL ID Modernization Act, and the Department of Homeland Security will work with states as they begin to implement digital driver's licenses so that these also may be REAL ID compliant. As the SoS improves technology and cyber security, these REAL ID options can become a reality.

Dowell acknowledges there are issues that must be worked through. “We must make sure people’s information is secure,” she said. “And for those who don’t have smartphones or don’t want a digital license, they should still have the option to stay with the hard copy REAL ID.”

About Pat Dowell

Pat Dowell is a lifelong public servant. She has served as a social worker, a city planner, an administrator of several large and small not-for-profits, and a university instructor.

Since 2007, she has served as the Alderman of the 3rd Ward of Chicago. She is the Chair of the Chicago City Council Budget Committee.

Dowell was a significant catalyst for the rebirth of the historic Bronzeville community that occurred in the 1990s. She has an extensive background in urban planning and community development and was one of the primary architects of the Bronzeville Development Plan.

Formerly, Dowell was the executive director of the Near West Side Community Development Corporation, the Mid-South Planning and Development Commission, and Chicago Public Allies, a national youth development organization.

Pat Dowell is the proud mother of an adult son and a longtime Bronzeville resident. As a college basketball star, she earned her bachelor's degree in Developmental Psychology from The University of Rochester and her master's degree in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago. Dowell owns a scrappy Yorkshire Terrier named Toots and is an avid Chicago Bulls Fan.

While she enjoys reading, cooking, and traveling – what she is truly passionate about is helping to serve the needs of her constituents.

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