Washington Governor Signs Bill Rejecting REAL ID

Affiliate: ACLU of Washington
April 18, 2007 12:00 am

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State Rebellion against De Facto National ID Card Spreads

SEATTLE, WA – As part of a growing state rebellion, Gov. Christine Gregoire today signed a bill rejecting REAL ID, a new federal identification system that would create a de facto national ID card. Legislatures in four other states – Maine, Idaho, Arkansas and Montana – also have adopted measures opposing REAL ID, and lawmakers in more than 20 other states are considering similar action.

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. The measure (SB 5087) passed both chambers of the legislature with bipartisan support, including an overwhelming 95-2 vote in the House. Senator Mary Margaret Haugen (D-Camano Island) was the bill’s prime sponsor, and Senators Dan Swecker (R-Rochester) and Ed Murray (D-Seattle) were cosponsors.

“Lawmakers from both parties took a strong stand against REAL ID. It would threaten personal privacy, as well as create a bureaucratic nightmare to implement,” said American Civil Liberties Union of Washington Legislative Director Jennifer Shaw.

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 Dec. 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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