News Local/State

Amish Can Apply for State ID’s In 2015

Horse-drawn buggy in Arcola Illinois.

The horse-drawn buggy is still the primary way Amish farmers near Arcolla, Ill. get around, though they arrange for rides in automobiles for longer trips. (Peter Gray/Harvest Public Media)

With the new year, Illinois' Amish population can apply for state ID cards that don’t require a photo.

State Representative Adam Brown (R-Champaign) says it’s taken a while to find a way to satisfy concerns of the Secretary of State and State Police, as well as abide by Amish religious beliefs against having their picture taken.

The new ID’s that serve as driver’s licenses for operators of horse-drawn buggys use a fingerprint instead.  The same exemption is provided for those with firearm owner ID cards.

Brown said he and Senate sponsor Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) met with Amish church leaders from Central and Western Illinois who first proposed the measure.

“Amish folks throughout my district are largely not problems historically for law enforcement, or other state actions," he said.  "They’re a breed of people that wants to be laissez faire with state government.  They want to be as hands off as possible, and they want to do their thing within their community.  I definitely respect that."

Brown said with today’s technology, a fingerprint identifies someone better than a photo.   

Besides helping the Amish following the law, he said the ID’s will help them with services that others take for granted, like opening a bank account.