Virginia lawmakers move toward electronic identification

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed a bill into law in March that established a new council to establish electronic identity standards in the state.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed a bill late last month directing the state to establish identity management standards for electronic identification through an advisory council to advise the rollout of e-ID across the state.

The bill, which will officially go in effect July 1, established an Identity Management Standards Advisory Council, which is designed to advise the state’s secretary of technology on the adoption of identity management standards and the creation of documents and guidance to ease the state toward approval of electronic identity standards.

The council will consist of seven members, all appointed by the governor for four-year terms, who have “expertise in electronic identity management and information technology,” according to the text of the bill. The members consist of a representative of the Virginia Information Technologies Agency, a representative from the state Department of Motor Vehicles, and five members of the private sector with “appropriate experience and expertise.”

The state’s chief information officer, currently interim CIO Eric Link, can either serve as an ex-officio member, or appoint someone else to serve as that member. The Office of the Technology secretary will provide the advisory council’s staff, and members of the board will not be compensated for their service.


Once established, the council will work to send guidance documents on electronic identification that will “adopt nationally recognized technical and data standards regarding the verification and authentication of identity in digital and online transactions.”

After the council’s recommendations for guidance are completed and sent to the technology secretary, they will be posted on the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall and published in the Virginia Register of Regulations. The secretary will send the final guidance to the Joint Commission on Administrative Rules before they become active.

McAuliffe’s signature on the bill comes just before the governor’s office announced vetoes of new legislation that would require photo identification to obtain an absentee ballot. McAuliffe, after announcing his actions on the 800 bills the Legislature sent to his desk, said his main criteria for signing legislation into law was to ensure the new laws made Virginia more competitive and improved people’s lives.

“We took significant steps forward reforming our workforce development system, strengthening our transportation planning process, enhancing resources we offer Virginia veterans and building on our efforts to grow a 21st century energy economy,” McAuliffe said. “My focus this session was on laying a foundation for a new Virginia economy, and I am proud to say that we did just that this year.”

The Virginia law appears to be the first state legislative foray into electronic identification; however, that does not mean states have not examined this issue before.


Iowa’s Department of Transportation began a small digital driver’s license pilot in December. In Iowa, the digital driver’s license will exist within “an identity vault app” that will be accepted by law enforcement during traffic stops and by security officers at Iowa’s airports.

In North Carolina, officials have worked toward moving to a state-established form of electronic identification to be used online to ensure verification and access to state services. Massachusetts-based MorphoTrust received a two-year National Institute of Standards and Technology grant last year to develop a secure form of electronic identification that adheres to the White House’s National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace for the state.

The electronic identification pilots come a year out from a major U.S. Department of Homeland Security deadline for REAL ID, which could prohibit residents of several noncompliant states from traveling through major airports with licenses that do not comply with regulations established in the 2005 REAL ID Act. Currently more than 20 states have extensions on the compliance deadline, while Arizona, Louisiana and New Hampshire are noncompliant with the federal standards.

Jake Williams

Written by Jake Williams

Jake Williams is a Staff Reporter for FedScoop and StateScoop. At StateScoop, he covers the information technology issues and events at state and local governments across the nation. In the past, he has covered the United States Postal Service, the White House, Congress, cabinet-level departments and emerging technologies in the unmanned aircraft systems field for FedScoop. Before FedScoop, Jake was a contributing writer for Campaigns & Elections magazine. He has had work published in the Huffington Post and several regional newspapers and websites in Pennsylvania. A northeastern Pennsylvania native, Jake graduated magna cum laude from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, or IUP, in 2014 with a bachelor's degree in journalism and a minor in political science. At IUP, Jake was the editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper, The Penn, and the president of the university chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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