May 29, 2008

Movement within states still very much alive

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT: (202) 675-2312, media@dcaclu.org

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin returned a bill to the legislature that would prevent the state from funding implementation of the federal Real ID Act. By neither signing nor vetoing the bill 20 days after overwhelming passage in the legislature, Governor Palin allowed the bill to become law, effective August of this year. Real ID is a federal mandate imposing a national ID card on all Americans through their state drivers' licenses.

"Alaska has joined a growing nationwide movement against Real ID, and by allowing this legislation to become law, Governor Palin has made Alaska the 9th state to pass a law prohibiting compliance," said Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU Technology and Liberty Program. "The act was hastily passed by Congress without receiving the proper assessment of cost and implementation and is now being forced on the states by administration officials who will not be around in 2017, when final implementation is projected to occur. As the Department of Homeland Security continues its practice of kicking the can down the road, states are continuing to stand up for their residents' privacy and reject Real ID.  "

The Real ID Act of 2005 mandates that all states have compliant identification cards consistent with federal regulations, as well as requiring that all Americans' private information be held in a giant federal database – the cost and security of which is unknown. The states' response to the passage of Real ID has been steady. To date, 19 states have passed either resolutions or statutes against the program, including nine that have opted out completely.

"Governor Palin and the Alaska legislature deserve praise from all Alaskans for standing up to the federal government," added Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Alaska. "Officials of both parties came together to pass legislation that will not only protect the privacy of Alaskans, but will protect their pocketbooks as well by rejecting Real ID's massive financial burden."

Steinhardt added, "By allowing this vital legislation to become law, Governor Palin has opened the door for other governors to do the same."

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