Barmore supports suspending online permit testing | News, Sports, Jobs – Evening Observer

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OBSERVER Staff Report

Chautauqua County Clerk Larry Barmore is supporting a fellow county clerk’s call to end on line permit testing.

Earlier this week, Rensselaer County Clerk Frank J. Merola issued a news release calling on the state Department of Motor Vehicles to immediately suspend online driver’s permit testing statewide in the wake of a widespread on line cheating scandal where applicants have used false documentation and false identities in order to illegally obtain New York State permits.

This program is currently the subject of a state Inspector General’s investigation.

“This is unbelievable,” Merola said. “I find it almost impossible to believe that the state DMV actually thought this online program would not be an open invitation to fraud. Especially when the state is offering free money to illegal aliens, no one ever considered that people would stoop to these methods to obtain these funds? This system is rife with fraud and I call on Governor (Kathy) Hochul and Commissioner (Mark) Schroeder to immediately suspend the on line permit testing and have these tests taken in person at the DMVs like before.”

Recent revelations released from the investigation, as listed in recent Times Union articles have included illegal immigrants paying $3,000 or more to have someone take the permit test for them and using fraudulent residency documents and fake mailing addresses to obtain permits. On line testing was introduced during the COVID crisis when most DMVs were closed to the public. Illegal immigrants were allegedly using the illicitly obtained permits in order to establish residency and qualify for benefits under the New York state recently created Excluded Worker’s Fund.

“They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions,” Merola said. “I do applaud the state’s intention in serving residents during the COVID crisis, but most if not all DMVs are open now, so there is little to no need to continue on-line testing. State DMV reported that during a four-day period, more than 1,500 people passed the online test but when they came to DMV to get the permit, 464, or 31%, had verification issues that required a retest. Fifty refused the retest and 205 failed the retest, an almost 50% rate. These figures are for state-run DMV centers; if you include clerk-run DMVs, these figures would triple.”

Merola is also calling for the state to agree to stricter identification and verification standards for test takers. “The state has lowered the bar for identification, through this online debacle, rather than making this a more secure process. We still have people trying to cheat when taking a 20 question permit test at our DMV where there are dozens of eyes on them; I am sure they have figured out how to cheat when they are at home. The Green Light law was passed allegedly to improve public safety but the opposite is happening. The state not only needs to suspend on line testing but may wish to review the Green Light law in order to improve document integrity and security.”

After Merola issued his news release, Barmore said he agrees with it. “The clerks have felt from the beginning that this would lead to testing fraud and our suspicions have proven to be true,” he said.

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