Washington Becomes Fourth State to Oppose REAL ID

Affiliate: ACLU of Washington
April 5, 2007 12:00 am

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OLYMPIA, WA – The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington today announced that the state legislature passed a bill in a landslide to block implementation of the federal REAL ID Act. The action makes Washington the fourth state to pass legislation opposing the law, joining Maine, Idaho and Arkansas.

“The overwhelming margin of today’s vote shows how truly bipartisan the opposition is to REAL ID. It would threaten personal privacy, as well as create a bureaucratic nightmare to implement,” said ACLU of Washington Legislative Director Jennifer Shaw.

The measure will prohibit state implementation of the REAL ID Act, unless the federal government fully funds it and provides stronger protections for the privacy of Washington drivers. Previously passed by the Senate, the measure was approved by the House by a 95-2 vote. Senator Mary Margaret Haugen (D-Camano Island) is the bill’s prime sponsor, and Senators Dan Swecker (R-Rochester) and Ed Murray (D-Seattle) are cosponsors.

Passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act requires states to produce standardized driver’s licenses and to store the drivers’ information in nationally connected databases – creating a de facto national ID card. By placing personally identifiable information in databases accessible across the country, REAL ID makes the information more vulnerable to identity theft and misuse.

The law requires states to start issuing these licenses by December 31, 2009, but it did not set aside funds to make that possible. In Washington, the net costs of implementing this new system would be approximately $50 million per year for the first five years, according to a survey by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.

REAL ID has drawn opposition from organizations across the political spectrum, including the American Bar Association, the American Conservative Union, the Council of State Governments, Gun Owners of America, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Governors Association.

More information about REAL ID is available online at www.realnightmare.org

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