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About 20 million voting-age citizens in our country right now are without driver’s licenses. In Indiana, 12 nuns were turned away from voting booths during the 2008 presidential primary because they lacked state identification. ID regulations like these draw attention to the growing ID divide between those who have identification, and those who do not—primarily immigrants, minorities, students, the poor, disabled persons, and the elderly.

The number of ID checks has risen sharply in recent years, but our elected officials at the local, state, and federal levels are divided about what to do about it. These divisions are most visible in the recent debate about REAL ID—legislation that passed Congress and was signed into law by President Bush, which imposes strict security, authentication, and issuance standards for state driver’s licenses and ID cards.

Proponents of REAL ID and similar legislation at the local level want stricter identification systems mainly to fight terrorism and limit immigration. For security, privacy, and civil liberties reasons, others are skeptical of programs that require proof of ID.

But it’s not just immigrants and minorities who are negatively affected. The legally blind or disabled, older Americans who no longer drive, teenagers who can’t afford the cost of acquiring a driver’s license, poor families without the means to afford the costs associated with maintaining a driver’s license, and the millions living in cities with public mass transit systems who do not have cars are also on the wrong side of the ID divide.

What is needed is a process of careful vetting and due diligence to ensure that all people are treated fairly and equally and that identification systems take into consideration the effects on society as a whole. All U.S. citizens should be able to exercise their right to vote. But until a due diligence process is established to address recurring problems with the current and proposed identification programs, make sure you are carrying a government-issued ID on you at all times.

Originally posted to American Progress on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 12:54 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I oppose big brother crap like federal Real ID (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    However, not driving a car is not an excuse for not having a valid, state issued photo ID.  They do have non-driver state IDs, which you can get in the same way you get a drivers license, minus the driving part.

    It turns out that Bush IS a uniter... he united the good half of the country virulently against him.

    by fizziks on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 01:05:07 PM PDT

    •  Papers Please! (0+ / 0-)

      Beginning in the 1930 the German Police State was represented in popular culture by their requirement that anyone can be forced to show their papers at anytime.

      At the turn of the 21st century too many Americans accept these same requirements as a part of everyday life without a second thought about our modern Police State.

  •  failure to produce ID (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BYw, raycharles

    Failure to produce ID to a police officer upon request can lead to arrest, or at best on the spot fingerprinting. In many states, just refuing to give your name to a police officer (even if you are not driving) is an arrestable offense. That would be the main reason for carrying an ID, not the inablity to particiapte in periodic public election rituals.

    An optimist sees pluses even when he is at a cemetery.

    by Marcion on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 01:05:50 PM PDT

    •  You are right, but thats bullshi+ (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      What kind of law is that? Im going to arrest you because you wont tell me your name?

      What Bullshit.

      Cops should have a reason to stop you, ask you a question and better have a damn good reason for arresting you.

      •  what country are you living in? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Samer, BYw

        I swear, every time me and my wife land back in an American airport we just look at each other and say welcome back to the police state. We both work in the justice system and we see firsthand the gigantic racist gulag that exists, but generally whtie people just don't know about it and get upset over such little things as bullshit arrests? I say, as long as they didn't beat the shit out of you and then charge you for resisting arrest, as I see happening every day, you got off lucky.

        An optimist sees pluses even when he is at a cemetery.

        by Marcion on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 01:30:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Don't be poor without it! (0+ / 0-)

    In my county the poorest people can't even get an application for health care coverage without a picture ID.

    I got them to change many portions of their approval requirements by creating a lawsuit.

    I guess my job isn't finished yet.


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