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Federal Gov’t Must Address REAL ID Complaint

Complaints from two local women about the hassles married women face when applying for a new federal REAL ID should be forwarded to the federal government.

The women echo a complaint being made around the country that REAL ID laws burden women more than they do men because women have to show documentation for any name change. For some women, that could mean a birth certificate and then more than one marriage or divorce certificate. Older women have it particularly hard because they have to track down documentation going back decades.

REAL ID has roots from the 9-11 Commission convened to investigate the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and make recommendations about future policies. Commission members advocated for a way to make it more difficult for potential terrorists to get fraudulent photo identification — and thus was REAL ID born. Now, states have to require that residents seeking licenses and ID cards provide more rigorous proof of their identity and their residency. Any change to that process for women will have to come from the federal government, and those changes will not be made quickly.

Jamestown Human Rights Commission members want to look further into the issue, but they should know this problem didn’t originate with the Chautauqua County Clerk’s office. We don’t disagree with Kimberly Knight, Jamestown Human Rights Commission member, that the requirement is a pain for women. But the city commission’s members should remember that county employees are only enforcing the REAL ID requirements given to them by the federal government — and that’s where any complaint should be addressed.

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