Maine rejects Real ID

Maine legislators have voted against a federal mandate requiring states to issue electronically readable driver's licenses to their residents.

State lawmakers rejected the terms of the Real ID Act, which requires states to issue driver's licenses that conform to nationwide security standards and include computer-readable information. The mandate was passed in May 2005 as part of the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act.

State lawmakers voted against Real ID because of concerns about money and whether the security of the cards is worth the expense. The implementation of new driver's licenses would cost $11 billion nationally, with Maine taxpayers paying $185 million in the first five years of the program.

“The federal government may be willing to burden us with the high costs of a program that will do nothing to make us safer, but it is our job as state legislators to protect the people of Maine from just this sort of dangerous federal mandate,” said Maine Senate Majority Leader Libby Mitchell.

Maine legislators also cited privacy concerns as another factor for rejecting the mandate. The act requires state motor vehicle departments to electronically store private documents such as birth certificates to verify license applicants.

“Maine lawmakers have delivered a clear signal to the Congress that the implications of Real ID are unacceptable,” said Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap. They “understand that security is a critical priority, but so is privacy, and most importantly, a security system should actually provide security. It is not at all clear that after all the expense and tribulation for citizens that Real ID would present that we would really be no safer.”

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