Opposition to national ID continues to grow
By Tom DeWeese
Five states, Idaho, Washington, Montana, Arkansas and Maine, have enacted legislation informing the federal government that their states will not comply with the Real ID Act, a law passed by Congress in 2005 which will essentially transform driver's licenses into a national ID Card.
The Act requires each state to change their driver's license system to meet national standards and ensure that their databases are linked with other states and is set to take effect by May, 2008.
Under the Act, states and federal government would share access to a vast national database that could include images of birth certificates, marriage licenses, divorce papers, court ordered separations, medical records, and detailed information on the name, date of birth, race, religion, ethnicity, gender, address, telephone, e-mail address, and Social Security Number for more than 240 million with no requirements or controls on how this database might be used. Many Americans may not have the documents required to obtain a REAL ID, or they may face added requirements based on arbitrary and capricious decisions made by DMV employees.
States are in revolt primarily because they simply cannot afford to comply. Estimated costs for full implementation are as high as $14.6 billion (or $292 million per state. Moreover, individuals will have to cover an additional $7.8 billion in additional fees, raising the price tag for the Real ID Act to $23 billion. In many cases the technology necessary for compliance actually does not exist. Moreover, in March, 2007, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released 162 pages of proposed regulations which States are supposed to implement as part of the Real ID Act.
Under the DHS dictates, the Real ID Act is nothing more than a federal take over of state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMVs). Everything for the color of the card backgrounds to the fonts used must conform to federal standards. States will have to completely overhaul their systems to comply.
The DHS requires states to set up information databases that are shared by all states, to allow information verification for driver's licenses, passports and foreign documents, yet the technology to do that doesn't yet exist. There isn't even a national database system yet in place to verify birth certificates.
The DHS regulations do nothing to protect individual privacy in its proposed databases. It conveniently says it "would be outside its authority to address this issue (privacy)." It simply leaves the issue for states to work out.
The DHS regulations require that every citizen applying for a driver's license must present two verifiable documents to prove identity. That requirement alone will create massive lines and backups in DMVs across the nation as every single American will have to provide such information. Worse, the same documentation will be required for RENEWAL as well. Some estimate the time required to get a new driver's license will be at least four months. Proof of address must be shown with not just one document, but two. Birth certificates must be verified with state vital records offices, even though, as stated, there is no database from which to access such information.
And the new system will do absolutely nothing to stop terrorists or illegals from acquiring driver's licenses, nor will it protect us from identity theft. Because the DHS acknowledges that it needs an exemption allowing individuals to bypass many of the states' verification and document requirements, identity thieves and terrorists will have huge loopholes to exploit to obtain Real IDs.
These are the reasons why the five states mentioned above have passed legislation refusing to comply. They simply can't.
In addition to those five states, thirteen more states have passed legislation in one chamber of their legislatures to refuse compliance, including; Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Missouri, Minnesota, Georgia, South Carolina, West Virginia, Vermont and New Hampshire.
Nine states have introduced legislation that is still waiting action including; Oregon, Texas, Nebraska, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Massachusetts.
The federal government overstepped its Constitutional bounds when it tried to force the creation of a National ID on Americas. Now the states are what they should always when faced with that situation - they are saying no. Hopefully that will become a habit.
Tom DeWeese is the President of the American Policy Center and the Editor of The DeWeese Report.