An Ugly Answer to Real ID

By Beacon Staff

The state unveiled its new driver’s license design this week. It includes a hot-pink sky, trio of grizzlies and 1970s-era disco font that will undoubtedly help prove which Montana motorists are terrorists and which are not. This is our elected officials’ answer to complying with the federal Real ID law that asked each state to abide by a variety of Homeland Security anti-fraud measures. We opted to ignore the feds, and came up with our own solution – an ugly one to boot.

Beacon designer Stephen Templeton, upon studying the new design, quipped, “You have to go out of your way to be that bad.” And maybe that’s point – that the license is so ghastly that no one could ever replicate it. There is so much happening on the new Montana driver’s license, I reckon fake ID production in the state will slow considerably once the new ones are issued. The proliferation of underage keggers should slow soon thereafter. But that’s not why we made the change.

Instead, it was in response to perceived and real federal bullying. Montana was one of a handful of states that shunned the Real ID requirements, arguing that they were impractical, too expensive and an invasion of privacy. It all smelled a bit like a socialist plot, so we followed the rules by making our own. In short, we’re hoping to make the feds’ plan obsolete by throwing the kitchen sink at forgery. After all, our new license shows a miner’s pick under ultraviolet light and an outline of Sacagawea under concentrated light. Impressive.

It would take someone with a doctorate in design to even consider replicating our new license. And with Homeland Security’s track record, I doubt that agency will come up with anything better. It may, however, have required the state to use less pink.

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