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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 <james@moyer.com>
To: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.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 
its deletion.



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 
million cards.)

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 in category privacy

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