I quit driving a couple of years ago for health reasons—my driving was so bad that the health of others was in jeopardy. Just kidding (somewhat). Why I quit doesn’t matter. But, I still had a valid Driver’s License to take care of any identification needs that might arise. Even after the license expired it was still accepted, until one day it wasn’t. Apparently two years after the expiration date is considered too long.
I went to the bank to get some cash. Jeremy and I were doing some Craig’s List shopping. Before he would hand over the cash, the very courteous teller asked to see my ID. I whipped out the very well kept Driver’s License. He swiped it through his computer and informed me it was no longer acceptable.
I had no other photo identification and the bank refused to cash my check. I wasn’t sure what to do since I really needed the cash and it was more than the ATM would dispense. After several minutes of talking and several failed attempts at persuasion, an area where I usually excel, I was still without my cash. The bank manager even tried to override the computer but it didn’t work.
The irony is that even though the bank would not cash my check to myself, they did allow me to write out a check to Jeremy. Even though he did not have an account at that bank they cashed it for him because they knew the check was good.
The point of all this is that I finally realized the need to do something about getting an ID card. So I went online to learn about the process and how it is done. That resulted in a trip to the Driver’s License office, something I always dread having to do. However, Tarrant County has a new building and they have created a process that works. The wait was pretty short.
With my expired Driver’s License in hand, along with my Social Security card, which I have had since 1967 when I got my first job, it looked like a very simple task. Not quite!
The website explained that I needed two forms of identification which I had. However, the woman said the expired license did not count, and since I did not have a photo identification I would actually need three identifiers. Who has that?
The things she suggested would require a trip back home. Since one of the ways Tarrant County has streamlined the process is to send every county resident to the same place. It works, but it was a 25 mile trip for me. I really didn’t want to make the trip home and back so I tried my hand at persuasion once again.
Some of the documents she suggested I could access via my computer, which was at home, of course. The very courteous clerk actually allowed me to use her computer, which only solved half the problem. Now I had to remember my login password to several sites. Since there was no way that was going to happen, remember your listening to one who is on the verge of senior citizenship (I do have an AARP card, but it was not acceptable for this purpose), I requested a new password be emailed to me so I could reset.
So, now I’m going back and forth from my phone to her computer, reading the emails and resetting the passwords. Finally I had the needed documents on the computer screen and the very courteous clerk allowed me to print them on her printer.
When all was said and done then all was said and done (I’ve always wanted to write that sentence for some reason). I left with a temporary ID and instructions that the official one would arrive in the mail in a few weeks—which it did. Everyone is happy and my new ID card works just fine.
But, this is not really about my experience getting a state approved ID card. It is about requiring folks to get identification before they can vote in an election. In order to vote in Texas, a person must have one of these:
- Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
- Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS
- Texas personal identification card issued by DPS
- Texas concealed handgun license issued by DPS
- United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph
- United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph
- United States passport
As I already indicated, I don’t have the first one. The second item has the same basic requirements as the third so why bother. Since I do not own any guns, remember I quit driving so I wouldn’t hurt someone else so how safe would I be with a gun in my hand; item four is off my list. I was never in the military (not drafted because of a medical condition) so item five is not available. I was born in Amarillo, Texas in 1950, and have only been out of the country a half a dozen times, so why would I need to prove my citizenship. My Passport, like my Driver’s License, is expired. I now have the third item on the above so I am good to go.
I can vote.
I hear a lot of folks defending the voter id law on the basis that is simple to get a valid id so it really does not keep anyone from voting. From my experience, I can attest it is not that simple.
Take my mother for example. She is about to turn 89 years old. She hasn’t driven for several years so I suspect her license is about as expired as mine. I can’t think of anything else on the list of requirements that she possesses. I was able to bail myself out of a bind by accessing utility bills with my name and address, but she doesn’t have any of that. She has moved a couple of times since she last voted. I don’t think she has any interest in voting, but what if someone in a similar situation had such a desire? What could they do?
Like many, I am confident the law discriminates against the poor. I’m thinking of those who can’t make the 25 miles trip to the DPS office, or don’t have a home with utility bills in their name.
Perhaps we should be a little more hesitant when accusing people of being lazy and undeserving when they complain about the voter id laws. The right to vote has been fought for since the inception of America (remember “no taxation without representation”). That battle has a rich history including the women’s suffrage movement and the civil rights movement.
It is disheartening that we are having to do this once again.