REAL ID and the security of state identity documents: the long, rocky, and incomplete journey toward full implementation
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The 9/11 Commission recommended that the federal government set standards for the issuance of identification documents. Insecure identification documents are used to engage in fraud against individuals, government institutions, and businesses, and they have been used to facilitate terrorism. The federal government has led by enacting the REAL ID Act in 2005, which set issuance standards for driver's licenses and state identification documents. Nine years later, only 21 of the 56 states and territories are in full compliance. This thesis provides a high-level overview and evaluation of some of the major state concerns that have led some jurisdiction to resist REAL ID openly, and others to make material, but not yet full compliance. It explores the federal government's response to those concerns; how it has sought to facilitate compliance, and its more recent move toward enforcement as it begins to restrict the use of non-compliant documents for federal official purposes. The thesis provides case studies of three states to illustrate the implementation experience of those states. Finally, it provides an analysis of federal efforts to date, and provides recommendations on what the federal government might do to address states' concerns, and reach the goal of full compliance.
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