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New Mexico’s REAL ID rules have forced court caseloads ‘to go off the charts’

by Joseph J. Kolb  |  Published on May 2, 2017


For decades, New Mexico residents didn’t give much thought to the name on their government-issued IDs. They sometimes changed it – though not legally – to a name they preferred or didn’t care if their name was misspelled.

But then the state passed the REAL ID Act, a stricter identification requirement that forced residents to either keep their legal name on all government -issued IDs or petition the courts to change it. And that has forced hundreds of New Mexican to flood the courts to update and verify their official documents, from their driver’s licenses to their passports to their social security cards.

Presiding Civil Division District Court Judge Shannon Bacon said in her seven years on the bench, she has never seen such an influx of people petitioning the courts to change their names.

“The REAL ID compliance has forced our caseload to go off the charts,” said Bacon.

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