Proving Who You Are
Got a note from the State of Florida Division of Motorist Services a couple of weeks ago. Never heard of them? Neither had I. Nothing really wrong though. It's the division of Florida Department of Transportation that deals with what the first paragraph of the note warned about: " Your lorida driver license expires on: 05/17/2013".
No great surprise. My wife got one too. Nice to get the warning. But then came the stunner, in caps: "YOU MUST BRING AN ORIGINAL OR CERTIFIED TRUE COPY OF THE FOLLOWING DOCUMENTS. NO COPIES.":
For U.S. citizens, a government issued birth certificate (a hospital copy wouldn't do), or a valid U.S. passport, or naturalization papers. For non U. S. citizens a valid Department of Homeland Security document. For everyone, a social security card, W-2 form, or pay check of SSA-1099 or non-SSA-1099 showing a complete social security number.
For those whose names have been changed, a court order or government-issued marriage certificate and finally, again for everyone, two documents showing your residential address (bills must be less than 60 days old).
By the way, the old driver's license pix and identity factors can't be used.
Wow. I was ready to call the ACLU. Hey, I know that a driver's license is a privilege and not a right, but how's the average guy (or girl) supposed to get all this together. Someone must be out there trying to keep me from getting a driver's license. What do the poor and minorities do?
Do they realize that not everyone has a passport, or can hustle up some old birth certificate. And, if you're from Puerto Rico, the birth certificate has to be issued after 7/1/2010. I don't even know what's that about. What about the W-2 if you don't have a job? Does everyone know what a 1099 is? As for the Social Security card, who knows where that might be? Two bills, in the last 60 days? Not everyone has bills if you pay in cash.
Voting is easier than all this. Even with the inconvenience of a photo ID. Even with a couple of months to do everything, it's not as if I had a whole year to prepare. Gee whiz. Owning a car costs a lot and you still have to go through this red tape. What a hassle.
Somehow, I (and my wife) got through this ordeal (though I couldn't find a social security card). Also, I know it's all because of post 9/11 regulations. Moreover, it wasn't really that hard - not if I wanted to drive. In addition, the county tax collector's office where we processed the papers and had new pictures taken, was efficient, friendly and helpful. In fact, it's a good time to point out that I've always had good experiences at our county and state offices.
However, I couldn't get past the comparison with the big fuss about tighter identification procedures for voters. Again, I know that one is a privilege and the other a right, but identification is identification and in each case it's really a good idea to know that the person representing himself as that person really is that person.