Real ID is a tough standard for some

New Mexico is finally complying with the federal standard for Real ID.

Real ID is the new form of driver’s license (or ID card for non-drivers) that will be required beginning in 2020 to board a plane and for other federal purposes. Real ID confirms that you are genuinely you to the satisfaction of the federal government. When you next renew your license, or no later than October 2020, to get a Real ID license, you will have to present several documents to the Motor Vehicle Department.

New Mexico’s legislature delayed several years before adopting this standard. After studying the requirements, I see why. Pulling together the necessary documents will probably be easy for most homeowners. It will be hard for some low-income people, especially those who don’t have a stable address.

The details are on the MVD website at

You’ll have to present three types of documents: one with your Social Security number; one that identifies you by age; and two that establish proof of residence.

The first document could be a W-2 from an employer or a 1099 that shows your Social Security number – from your bank, for example. But many 1099s, to protect your security, show only the last four digits. You need one that shows the complete number, such your annual report from the Social Security Administration itself.

What if you’re not in the conventional economy? What if you do not have a bank account? Estimates say about 10 percent of New Mexicans don’t. What if you have been working at odd jobs or for employers who paid cash and kept no records? It could be tough.

The second document could be a passport or birth certificate. If you were born in any state in the US, and you don’t have a birth certificate, you can get a replacement from the vital records department of the state where you were born.

In New Mexico the current cost is $10. It takes six to 12 weeks, says the website, so you should make the request a few months ahead. And you have to provide a copy of another government-issued document, such as a driver’s license, with a picture ID.

The third category requires documents that establish your residency. No problem if you own your home in your name. But what if your home is in the name of another family member? What if you are living with a friend? What if you’re renting and do not have a written rental agreement? You might have a problem.

Fortunately, unless your current license is about to expire, you have time to gather the documents before your next renewal.

But what if you had to find all these documents in a single day or lose a basic right of citizenship?

This is a situation many thousands of Americans faced recently on the day they tried to vote. The Real ID requirements look similar to the voter ID requirements passed in a number of states (not New Mexico), though some states are more demanding. Many observers believe those requirements were enacted deliberately to prevent poor and minority people from voting. According to accounts from voting rights advocates, voters who didn’t know they would be challenged at the polls were forced to try to assemble some of these documents at the last minute before they could vote.

Real ID is NOT required to vote in New Mexico. But will most likely be used for many purposes beyond the original intention, whittling away at our privacy in ways we can’t yet anticipate. New Mexico law has created an alternative “Driving Authorization Card” for those without the necessary documents, but it seems inevitable that card will label the bearer as a second-class citizen (or not a citizen, period). One more obstacle to make life a little harder for poor people.

Triple Spaced Again, © New Mexico News Services 2017

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