Colorado's Fight Against the Real I.D. Act

June 2007
Colorado is one of 16 states that have passed laws refusing compliance with the Fed's Real I.D. Act. Ed Sealover, writing in the Colorado Springs Gazette, wonders how far our legislators are willing to take the opposition. First, some background on the Real I.D. Act:
The act requires that states issue driver's licenses and ID cards that have specific information, that issuers of the licenses scan birth certificates and other proof of citizenship, and that states' information be accessible to the federal government for a national database. Intended as an antiterrorism weapon, it will prevent illegal immigrants from obtaining a driver's license and restrict their freedom of movement, backers say. ....So far, 16 states have passed resolutions similar to Colorado's requesting delay or repeal of the act, and 22 others are considering such action, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Only Indiana and Virginia have approved laws clearing the way for full implementation.
The text of Colorado's Joint Resloution against the Act, enacted on May 4, 2007, is here (pdf.) The objections:
Conservatives and liberals have assailed the legislation recently as a violation of civil rights because it demands more information from residents and then keeps it permanently at the government's fingertips. In addition to being a costly mandate for states, it makes citizens vulnerable to identity theft by keeping their most important information in a central place that could be hacked into, critics say. A resolution written largely by the American Civil Liberties Union that passed through the Colorado Legislature without opposition details those concerns and goes a step further. It states that the General Assembly will pass no law to facilitate implementation of the Real ID Act and will spend money only on a comprehensive analysis of the costs of implementing it or toward a constitutional challenge mounted by the attorney general.
The stickler:
But, with the law stating that noncompliant IDs must be stamped and not accepted for federal purposes such as passing through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints, the question is: How far will states go to rebel against the national government?
With increased access to our personal information, the chances of identity theft rise. For example:
Some department stores now swipe licenses to verify a person's identity when they write checks, meaning that information on the new license would be captured in their computers, he said. Another possible problem, according to Pommer, is outsourcing: If the government can't find enough American companies to do the voluminous work of preparing cards, would it outsource this function to another country?
Where are our elected officials on this? Sen. Ken Salazar says he is unaware of the controversy over the implementation of the Act. The costs of implementation will be huge. Here's what you can expect in the future:
The state's only plans are to ask for an extension of the May 2008 implementation deadline to January 2010, as every state in the country is expected to do, Vecchi, of the Motor Vehicle Division, said. After that, the fate of the Real ID Act may depend on the reaction of citizens, who ultimately may weigh in on whether it is an overly intrusive law or just a reality of life in a post-Sept. 11 world.
In other words, it's up to us who oppose the law to get our lawmakers to repeal it at the federal level. You can read more about it here. A chart showing state by state repsonse to the Act is here. For specifics, the Gazette recaps the requirements of the Real I.D. Act:
  • States must issue driver's licenses and ID cards that contain at least nine specific pieces of information, including the person's date of birth and signature and a digital photo of the person.
  • ID card applicants must present one of 10 acceptable documents, including a birth certificate, a passport or a U.S. certificate of citizenship, and the document must be scanned into a system and kept for at least 10 years. States must verify Social Security numbers.
  • States are required to ensure the physical security of locations where ID cards are made and must perform financial and criminal history checks on employees who make them. This will not affect Colorado and other states that contract to have their licenses made out of state.
  • States must provide to all other states electronic access to information contained in motor vehicle databases.
  • States that do not comply with these rules must state on their ID cards that they are not accepted as federal identification, and those cards cannot be used to board federally regulated commercial aircraft, to access federal facilities such as courthouses or to enter nuclear power plants.