Legislature Approves Measure to Repeal Costly REAL ID

Affiliate: ACLU of Maine
June 3, 2009 12:00 am

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Governor Vetoes

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Today, the Maine Legislature passed a bold, far-reaching bill to protect privacy rights and basic fairness for the people of Maine. The Governor swiftly vetoed the measure, and supporters expressed doubts that the legislature would be able to override this measure.

The bill, LD 1357, sponsored by Sen. Dennis Damon (D-Hancock) would have removed numerous obstacles in the process for receiving a driver’s license and would have protected the privacy of information in the possession of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. While opponents of the bill, and the Governor, claimed the measures helped keep Mainers safer, supporters of the bill believe that REAL ID raises the risk of identity theft and increases the danger of unlicensed, uninsured motorists on Maine’s roads. In addition, the current eligibility requirements have been a challenge for many people to navigate.

Championing LD 1357 in the legislature was a diverse coalition of privacy and human rights advocates. They shared disappointment in the Governor’s veto.

“We’re truly disappointed by the Governor’s veto,” stated Beth Stickney, Executive Director of the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project. “People should not need to hire an attorney in order to get a driver’s license.”

“The Governor missed a golden opportunity with LD 1357 to fix the problems that were created last year,” said Rachel Talbot Ross, President of the Portland Chapter of the NAACP. “Driving immigrants away from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles because they fear they cannot prove their legal status will not make our roads safer, and in fact the opposite is true.”

“The present law has created real barriers for the immigrants and refugees we work with who have come to this country to build a new life, and it needs to be changed,” said Marc Mutty, Public Affairs Director for the Catholic Diocese. “We should all be working to help these new immigrants be successful, and not placing artificial barriers to their succeeding in this country.”

“As the state of Maine is changing demographically, we need to make sure that we are providing a welcoming and supportive environment for our new residents, many of whom are fleeing war and poverty in their native lands,” said Rev. Jill Saxby, Executive Director of the Maine Council of Churches. “We need to lend a helping hand, not shut the door on their aspirations to build a new life here.”

“REAL ID is a remnant of the misguided policies of the previous administration, and the people of Maine deserve real change,” said Shenna Bellows, Executive Director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union. “The Governor missed an opportunity to restore privacy, safety, and equal protection of the law for all Mainers seeking a driver’s license.”

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