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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 25, 2007
Contact: Don Cookson
207-626-8404

Maine Rejects Real ID Act

Joint resolution refutes plan for national identification cards

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap today praised Maine lawmakers for declaring their bi-partisan opposition to the federally mandated REAL ID Act. A joint resolution rejecting REAL ID earned passage through the Maine House and Senate today by an overall vote of 171 to 4.

“Maine lawmakers have delivered a clear signal to the Congress that the implications of Real ID are unacceptable,” Dunlap said. “Lawmakers in Maine 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.”

According to Secretary Dunlap, the US Congress passed the Real ID Act on May 11, 2005 as part of an Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for the Global War on Terror. REAL ID establishes national standards and requirements that must be met by May 2008 if state-issued licenses and IDs are to be accepted as valid identification by the federal government. The cost to implement the plan has been estimated at approximately 11 billion dollars nationally, with projected costs for the state of Maine reaching 185 million dollars over the program’s first 5 years alone.

“Maine Senator Susan Collins had foreseen some of these difficulties when she authored the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004,” Dunlap said. “The stakeholder process in the Intelligence Reform Act, which was designed to be implemented by the states in an absorbable way, was replaced by Real ID. Her leadership has been reflected in the actions led today by Senator Mitchell and Representative Lansley,” he said.

“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 Senate Majority Leader Libby Mitchell (D- Augusta). “As a Mainer, I am proud that this state has led the way in taking a stand against Real ID.”

Because the REAL ID Act links driver’s licenses and state ID cards to a national database, it could provide a windfall of information for identity thieves. Shenna Bellows, Executive Director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union, says REAL ID would mean “a huge threat to individual liberties.”

Dunlap has been an active participant in the national discussion about identity security, participating in stakeholder processes and forums hosted by the Department of Homeland Security, Center for American Progress, Council of State Governments, National Association of State Chief Information Officers, Maine Civil Liberties Union, National Electronic Commerce Coordinating Council, and others.

The Joint Resolution passed today was co-sponsored by Senator Elizabeth Mitchell (D-Augusta) and State Representative Scott Lansley(R-Sabattus).