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Ways to fight the REAL ID Act at the state level: some suggestions
Previous Politech messages:
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: REAL ID Act opportunities
Date: Tue, 09 Aug 2005 16:48:54 -0500
From: James Moyer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Declan McCullagh <email@example.com>
It appears that there are some interesting trends regarding the REAL ID
State legislatures are hopping mad over the costs and complexities of
compliance, and I believe this presents opportunity.
Virginia has estimated its cost to comply at $237 million. Based on
that, I made further calculations (below) which conclude that the cost
per cardholder who actually needs a REAL ID compliant license is much
more than just having Virginia print "Not for Federal ID purposes" on
all their licenses, and telling those affected to get a passport.
REAL ID Act compliance is not just expensive because of the framework
that needs to be implemented, but also the work involved per licensee.
It is likely some states will choose to issue two license classes--one
that meets REAL ID requirements (and will presumably be more expensive
and only issued from select DMV offices) and another which will be
cheaper, easier to obtain, and bear "Not for Federal ID Purposes."
(Already one state, Tennessee, issues two licenses, a regular one, and a
"Certificate for Driving" which says "Not for Identification
Purposes."--The CFD is a license for immigrants who are either on short
term visas or can't prove their legal residence in the United States.)
In any case, the opportunity is there for activists to lobby their state
legislatures that REAL ID Act compliance need not be universal or met at
all. I am sure some states will split-comply (issuing a mix of compliant
and non-compliant licenses) and I think there's a great chance of
convincing other states to reject compliance entirely (which Montana has
preliminarily done, for political reasons.) The faster this gets into
legislators heads, the more likely it will occur.
A political shift in Congress, combined with the observation that states
are declining to comply with REAL ID Act requirements, may provide for
According to one article, Virginia estimates $237 million to comply with
the REAL ID Act. With a population of 7 million, you can assume 80% of
Virginians have either a state ID or driver's license. (That's 5.6
That would break down to $43 for every Virginia ID card holder.
*However* let's say that 20% (a low estimate based on the demographics)
of Virginians already have a US passport, military ID card, or other
type of federal ID. These people do not need a driver's license or state
ID card to meet federal regulations, since they already have a card
which meets federal guidelines.
Now we're up to $53 for every Virginia ID card holder who does not have
another type of federal ID.
Of those 4.5 million Virginians, how many of them *really* need a
federal ID card? Who visits nuclear facilities? How many actually need
to go through other government facilities?
I suggest only 20-30% need federal ID, and that's because those are
frequent flyers. Non-frequent flyers (individuals who fly less than
twice a year) can endure the occasional hassle of showing up the airport
and being a high risk passenger (a selectee) which is the consequence of
having no ID. It's a common practice, and there is no harm in it.
For those 25% of Virginians who really need a federal ID but don't
already have one (about 1.2 million people) the cost per person to
implement REAL ID is about $211.
Which is twice the cost of a US passport. There also seems to be
increasing interest in private "frequent traveller" ID cards, which will
likely be in most major US airports by 2008, and a lot cheaper than
I propose that states be told that the return on investment for REAL ID
compliance is ridiculous--and simply decline to comply.
Posted by Declan McCullagh on Aug 09, 2005
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