Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Alaska Libertarian Party Officially Opposes "Real ID", Will Hold Rally Against It

Here's a local story that took place completely under my radar screen. It is partially my fault - I stopped checking the Alaska Libertarian Party (ALP) website after the municipal election. However, it's also partially the local media's fault - I check their websites daily, and I cannot recall ONE SINGLE STORY about libertarian political activities. It's as if there's a media embargo on any coverage of the Alaska Libertarian Party. And there's no justification for this omission - the ALP is clearly maturing, having moved beyond teenage curfews and draft registration to embrace more serious issues. Their candidates are also more competitive. Jason Dowell ran an excellent Midtown Assembly campaign, pulling in 12% of the vote, and Alex Crawford garnered some useful publicity for the ALP in his East Anchorage Assembly campaign.

However, the Alaska Libertarian Party hasn't just been making noise. On Saturday, June 9th, they held their state convention right here in Anchorage. While they've yet to provide all the details, they did pass two resolutions. The first was a resolution expressing official acknowledgement and recognition that Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul is a "pro-liberty" candidate. However, this is not to be construed as an official party endorsement - nowhere in the statement does the word "endorse" appear.

However, it's the second resolution passed that's far more critical. Not only did ALP delegates pass a resolution opposing the implementation of Real ID, but did so UNANIMOUSLY. Real ID not only poses a grave threat to fundamental American liberties, but implementation will be prohibitively expensive, inefficient, and time-consuming, and place many Americans in impossible bureaucratic positions. Here's an excerpt of the ALP's reasoning, from their website:

The REAL ID Act violates the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Tenth Amendment prevents the Federal Government from performing tasks which are not delegated to the Federal Government by the Constitution. Many Americans do not realize that the authority of the Federal Government is quite limited by the Constitution. The Federal government has no authority to force the States to comply with the REAL ID Act.

The REAL ID Act was passed by the House and Senate and signed into law by President Bush. The Act requires the State governments to implement Federal identification guidelines, which would trash the current system of each State maintaining individual ID programs. Essentially, the REAL ID Act requires that all Americans obtain a Federal Identification Card which would be mandatory to open or maintain a bank account, fly on a plane, ride a bus, obtain employment, purchase items at the grocery store, or enter a Federal building, among other things. It is estimated that implementation of the REAL ID Act will cost the State governments around 13 billion dollars to be in compliance. State governments have until December 31, 2009 to implement REAL ID federal requirements.

Back on March 8th, 2007, the Anchorage Daily News published an editorial opposing Real ID. In that piece, further discussed HERE, they spelled out four fundamental categorical objections:

- Americans are leery of a national ID card. You don't have to suffer paranoia about unmarked helicopters to oppose a national ID or its like, especially one that could carry vital information about any of us without privacy protections, a card that could subject us to increasing government control of travel, business and freedom. REAL ID provisions allow Homeland Security to add more elements to the card later -- such as fingerprints and retinal scans.

- Estimates for program costs -- an unfunded federal mandate -- begin at about $10.7 billion and range to $22.4 billion, according to the American Civil Liberties Union and Department of Homeland Security. The states would pick up the tab. That means Alaskans would pick up their share.

- States would be required to verify the authenticity of documents presented as proof of identification, adding to delays and costs.

- No privacy provisions are included. For example, one of the requirements that Homeland Security could add to new driver's licenses is a radio frequency identification chip embedded in the license. The State Department already has these in passports, but has adopted privacy protections -- the chip can't be scanned when the passport is closed. REAL ID requires no such safeguards, nor reimbursement for states that try to provide them.

In that same post, I also presented a Q&A session from the Homeland Security website, and referred to a 162-page document published by DHS defining what consitutes "proof of identity". Click HERE to view the entire document in PDF format (scroll down to pages 32-56 to view core requirements and definitions). Here's the basic list:

- Valid unexpired U.S. passport
- Certified copy of a birth certificate
- Consular report of birth abroad
- Unexpired permanent resident card
- Unexpired employment authorization document
- Unexpired foreign passport with valid U.S. visa affixed
- U.S. certificate of citizenship
- U.S. certificate of naturalization
- Another REAL ID driver's license of identification card issued subsequent to REAL ID standards

Clearly, if a 162-page document is required just to set forth standards for identity documents, DHS has gone way over the top. It is clearly too complex, too bureaucratic, and the storage system and technology too indefensible against hackers.

In fact, the Alaska DMV's preemptory implementation of some Real ID requirements for those getting new Alaska driver's licenses has spawned a lawsuit by the My Alaska ID privacy advocacy group, who claim the DMV has no authority implement the regulations without legislative approval.

In a later post dated March 18th, I presented the travails of Heather Lende. When Lende got married and took on her husband's last name 25 years ago, she failed to follow up by getting her name legally changed in court. For 25 years, it was never a problem. Now, because of Real ID, when she went to renew her driver's license, her failure came back and bit her in the ass. Bang - mismatch with Social Security records. Even though the name Heather Lende was posted on numerous documents, apparently the Social Security database used by the Department of Motor Vehicles flagged her maiden name, Heather Vuillet.

When she discussed this problem with a Social Security officer, presenting her passport, marriage license, driver's license, voter registration card, birth certificate, baptismal record, and all five of her children's birth certificates, she was told that this armada of paperwork still didn't "prove" she was legally Heather Lende. As a result, her license could not be renewed and she could anticipate similar problems when her passport expired unless she could match her name to her Social Security number.

She was instructed to fill out a name-change form and provide two pieces of ID, a passport or driver's license in my maiden name, and a marriage certificate -- the original or a certified copy -- from the agency that issued it. But when she asked if her birth certificate and her marriage license could serves as the two IDs, she was told that birth certificates aren't allowed.

To make a long story short, she was ultimately allowed to use her marriage license and a copy of some old medical records to satisfy the documentation requirements. However, similar horror stories have already been duplicated elsewhere and will become the norm in the future should Real ID be implemented.

The Alaska Libertarian Party also recommends visiting the http://www.realnightmare.org/ website for even more updated information. The Real ID issue became so huge and complex that the ACLU could no longer house it within the constraints of their main website; consequently, they launched a second site solely for Real ID information. And from the realnightmare site we learn that, as of this post, 17 states have enacted statutes opposing Real ID, 10 more states have passed such bills in one chamber, and 10 additional states have at least introduced such legislation. Alaska, I'm relieved to report, is one of the latter. HJR19, introduced by Rep. John Coghill (R-North Pole), and co-sponsored by eight other House members (6 Democrat and 2 Republican), calls for Congress to repeal Real ID. The bill has not been acted upon since April 23rd.

The Alaska Libertarian Party also plans to hold a public rally opposing Real ID at some unspecified time in the future.

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