AUGUSTA — The Maine House voted Tuesday to bring the state into compliance with the federal Real ID requirements.
The 115-30 vote appears to end Maine’s official opposition to the tougher federal security standards for driver’s licenses and other forms of identification used to board commercial aircraft or gain entrance to federal buildings. While the issue faces additional votes in the Senate, the chamber passed the measure on a 31-4 vote last week and Gov. Paul LePage urged lawmakers to approve the bill.
The bill, L.D. 306, directs Maine’s secretary of state to begin the process of designing a new driver’s license that complies with the Real ID standards. However, the bill would allow state residents to opt out of receiving a Real ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card in a compromise that aimed to address privacy concerns raised by opponents.
“I believe the opportunity to opt in or opt out is sufficient to calm this old fella’s soul,” Rep. Tom Skolfield, a Weld Republican who originally opposed the federal Real ID requirements, said during floor debate.
Maine is one of a handful of states that have refused to comply with the Real ID law and not received extended waivers from the federal government. Federal officials insist that the additional requirements – including digitized images of the card holder that can be used with facial recognition software as well as federal access to a database of birth certificates and photographs – are necessary to help thwart terrorism.
But opponents warned that complying with Real ID could place Mainers’ most sensitive personal information – such as Social Security numbers, birth certificates and other documents – at risk from hackers.
“Given the present state of cybersecurity, we cannot assure anyone that this database will be secure,” said Rep. Gay Grant, D-Gardiner.
Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, who has led opposition to Real ID because of privacy concerns, has estimated that it would cost $2 million to $3 million to comply with the federal requirements.
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