"Real ID Woes" in Indiana:

A fine opinion piece in the South Bend Tribune describes how painful real ID will be for Indiana, and asks, is this really necessary? I'm going to quote the entire piece below, and I'll be happy to take it down if requested:
There is cause for concern over the federal Real ID Act and its May 2008 deadline for compliance. We, for example, are worried about how the act will affect Indiana. This is not a state whose Bureau of Motor Vehicles can afford a lot more delays or confusion in the processing of license branch transactions.

You think lines are long and waits are endless now in Indiana's (clockless) license branches? If some predictions are accurate, these will be remembered as the good old days as states struggle to meet demands of the federal legislation to standardize state-issued drivers' licenses.

One prediction came in an editorial this month in the Wall Street Journal. It quoted a consensus of views from the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National Governors Association and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, as saying the Real ID Act will be a major trial for states.

Furthermore, the act will impose a burden mostly unrelieved by federal support. According to the Journal, states put the cost of standardizing drivers' licenses at about $11 billion. So far, Congress has voted all of $40 million for assistance.

Not only will states be left to figure out how to pay the bill for this federal mandate, but many of the efficiencies that states have implemented in recent years -- such as Internet and other types of remote transactions -- will be undone.

People will need to go to their license branches in person. In Indiana, they will be going to some 27 fewer branches than existed prior to this year. When they get there, the demands for documentation will be greater than ever.

Every single driver in the country must apply in person for a new standardized driver's license. That's 245 million of them. And it won't be as simple as turning over the old license for a new one. Applicants will have to produce such documents as original birth certificates and Social Security cards.

According to the comment in the Journal, the consensus report predicts that license branches will have to double their staffs to accommodate the surge of demand. Anyone who has been in the Mishawaka license branch when all terminals are operating and there is standing-room-only in the waiting area has got to wonder how that is possible.

As is the case, we guess, with most Americans, the cost and inconvenience would be less troubling if they served a genuine purpose -- if, for example, they would make the country more secure against terrorists or at least more resistant to illegal immigration. Without any reason to think that either is the case, the cost to taxpayers (and in BMV patron frustration) hardly seems warranted.

Considering the belated shared consternation of the governors, state legislators and BMV administrators, we all should be pleased that the Real ID deadline still is 18 months away. The deadline should be pushed back at least until the expiration of current licenses and ID cards -- or Congress could revisit the central question: Is this thing necessary?


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