Maine Becomes First State to Reject Flawed Real ID Act; ACLU Applauds Move That Foils Plans For National ID System

January 25, 2007 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – The state of Maine today became the first state to reject participation in the Real ID Act – the federal law that lays the foundation for a national identity card. The American Civil Liberties Union applauded the move and predicted that it would be just the first in a cascade of state refusals.

“Maine has spoken: Real ID is a real nightmare for local governments” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Real ID is an unfunded mandate that could lead to rampant identity theft. We urge other states to follow Maine’s call for privacy. Maine’s action makes it crystal clear that Congress must fix what’s broken and significantly revise the Real ID Act.”

The Real ID Act federalizes the design, issuance and management of state driver’s licenses, creating a uniform identity card and database tantamount to the first national ID card. Under the act, residents of states that fail or refuse to comply will be unable to use their driver’s licenses for any activity that requires federally accepted identification, such as boarding airplanes or entering federal buildings.

“This is the beginning of the end of Real ID,” said Barry Steinhardt, Director of the ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Project. “The Real ID national ID scheme is pointless if one or more states refuse to participate, because the whole premise of the program is the creation of a single uniform national identity document and database.”

The Maine resolution, SP 113, passed in both chambers of the legislature. In the State House of Representatives, the vote was 137 to 4, and in the State Senate the vote was unanimous. With the resolution’s passage, Maine is rebuking federal attempts to undermine privacy with no real evidence that such steps enhance security. The resolution is expected to be followed by a statutory rejection of Real ID.

“As Maine goes, so goes the nation,” said Charlie Mitchell, Director of the ACLU State Legislative Department. “Already bills have been filed in Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Georgia and Washington, which would follow Maine’s lead in saying no to Real ID, with many mores states on the verge of similar action. Across the nation, local lawmakers are rejecting the federal government’s demand that they curtail their constituents’ privacy through this giant unfunded boondoggle.”

For more on the Real ID Act, including its status in various states, go to:

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