As Maine Goes, So Goes The Nation

Last week, with the extraordinary work of those in the state legislature and the Maine Civil Liberties Union, the state of Maine became the first in the nation to reject participation in the Real ID Act. That faulty law lays the foundation for a national ID card by federalizing the design, issuance and management of state drivers' licenses, and collecting and storing that information in central, national databases. Residents of states that refuse – or fail – to comply will be unable to use their drivers' licenses for any federal purpose, such as boarding an airplane or entering federal buildings.

Maine’s overwhelming vote (unanimous in the Senate, 137 to 4 in the House) is a clear signal that Real ID is a real nightmare for states. Many lawmakers who spoke on the floor talked about the need to protect the privacy of Mainers, especially when such a program cannot make us any safer and likely makes us more vulnerable to sophisticated terrorists, organized criminals and smugglers.

Indeed, the Real ID scheme is pointless if any states refuse to participate, as the whole premise of the program is the creation of a uniform National ID card and database. And Maine is not alone. Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Georgia and Washington all have similar bills, and many more are expected to follow suit. Now is the time for Congress to revisit the Real ID boondoggle and take steps that provide security and protect our privacy.