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View Diary: I was denied free voter ID today: Pennsylvania (402 comments)

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  •  DMV exists (21+ / 0-)

    purely to increase our stress and anxiety levels.

    I'm convinced.  It has nothing to do with driving.  It's all about fomenting serious mental illness among the populace.

    I had a similar kind of run-around when I needed to get my driver's license renewed in VA, after the expiration date.

    Anything I've ever needed from the DMV has always required multiple trips because some quirky formality has always gotten in the way.

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 08:41:29 PM PDT

    •  I have to give a little applause to the DMV in MD. (8+ / 0-)

      I'm sure they present problems sometimes, but over the years I've found that renewing my license has been amazingly efficient. I used to take my father (his birthday was around the same time as mine), and when there was a line, someone on the DMV staff would run up with a chair for him, even though the lines usually moved pretty quickly.
      As I remember from when I was much younger, the MD DMV used to be terrible, but there was a big move to reform it and make it efficient. For routine things, at least, it seems to have worked.

      We're not perfect, but they're nuts! -- Barney Frank

      by Tamar on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 08:57:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I wonder why? (3+ / 0-)

      I know what you mean! I wonder why it is like that? Like, what particular sociological conditions make DMV bureaucracies so difficult to deal with? I must say that I have met some very nice DMV workers who were helpful and kind, and the websites have improved processes a lot compared to 10 years ago. But still...

      •  in NJ they were privatized (17+ / 0-)

        and now they are really hellish. workers that come and go. workers that are not allowed to spend time on your issue as they are timed, and so on. Give me back the bureaucrats; I could at least complain to someone who might help back then. Now I am threatened by a manager if I raise a stink...

      •  In California there have been great improvements (12+ / 0-)

        I worked for DMV for a number of years (not in a public office) and they very carefully monitor wait times, increased appointments, improved queuing, implemented a "once and done," standard.

        What makes it hard is that DMV never gets increased resources, the people at the counter are some of the very lowest paid government workers, the customers are often surly and the laws change so often that there is a weekly stand up meeting to go over the changes in rules and regulations.

        "I watch Fox News for my comedy, and Comedy Central for my news." - Facebook Group

        by Sychotic1 on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 09:07:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  My experience at the CA DMV as someone (5+ / 0-)

          Moving in from out of state was very positive.

          The website explains exactly what you need. Appointments are easily scheduled. If you have your docs in order, even if you have multiple translations (and i had a lot) things go very smoothly.

          Most of the complaining I overheard was from people who didn't have what they needed, so they took it out on the clerk.

          © grover


          So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

          by grover on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 09:25:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  One thing about the CA DMV (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            IreGyre, grover, Cassandra Waites

            that I don't like is they mail you the license. Everywhere else I've lived they give it to you on the spot. The risk is what happened to me when we first moved here: I got mailed a license with somebody else's picture on it. I had to go back to get it corrected and so did thousands of other people apparently. It was hard to get an appt because they were so overloaded. The system must have been off by one person or something. It had all my info but someone else's photo.

        •  thank you (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sychotic1, PinHole

          Thank you for explaining. It is really interesting to hear about what works and what doesn't, and some very difficult aspects of working at a DMV. I really appreciate understanding better.

      •  The DMV (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        auapplemac

        is where every average American interfaces with their government bureaucrats.

        That's why everybody has a DMV story, and why the DMV is so universally despised....

        It's where we get to most often witness, first hand, the culture of a government workplace, and the attitude of the typical low level government worker.

        Some are better than others, of course, but I've found that the tedium of this particular workplace where it's the same thing, person after person, customer after customer, the very definition of the most boring job on earth.

        Average citizen confusion does not help the matter, it exacerbates the frustration trying to get an answer from someone that considers your confusion an opportunity to finally show their superiority.

        I try to imagine the Soviet equivalent of our DMV and that makes me feel gratitude. Otherwise I avoid going there at all costs.

        We've been spelling it wrong all these years. It's actually: PRO-GOP-ANDA

        by Patriot4peace on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 04:14:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  p.s., when I got the notice for my renewal, there (8+ / 0-)

      was a paragraph about how to go about renewing an expired license. I don't know for sure that it's as easy as it looks on paper, but according to the leaflet, the only difficulty with renewing an expired license in MD is that you're not allowed to drive yourself to the DMV!
      I'd invite you to move to MD, but we need people like you in VA!

      We're not perfect, but they're nuts! -- Barney Frank

      by Tamar on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 08:59:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I can't afford to live in MD (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        commonmass, Tamar

        it's too expensive!  Otherwise, I'd be there in a heartbeat, cuz that's where my son lives.

        ;^)

        My DMV experiences in VA have been so traumatic (I once had a full out panic attack at the DMV here and crumbled to the floor) that they have triggered deep bouts of depression.  To this day, I shrink in terror at the thought renewing my drivers license.  It is one of the things for which I harbor a deep and genuine fear and have to literally put on my cowardly lion shoes and make myself go.

        I've had horrible experiences with the DMV in NY state, in GA, in PA and in OH, too.  The easiest experience I've ever had was with NC DMV, but even those were nerve wracking, just not panic-inducing or terror-wrought.

        So, part of this is subjective, but, nonetheless real to me. That's also the reason I don't have a passport, I'm worried that if state agencies of identification papers terrify me, what sort of nightmares will the Federal one induce?

        Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

        by a gilas girl on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 01:18:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Can you renew on line, gilas girl? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tamar, a gilas girl

          I seem to think my husband and I did that.  At any rate, I haven't been to the DMV since my mother died and we had to dispose of her car by transferring the title to my sister, and that was more than four years ago.

          "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

          by Diana in NoVa on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 04:44:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I just renewed on line myself (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Tamar, a gilas girl

            It was easy peasy lemon squeezy.  I haven't been in person to the VA DMV since 2007 when I needed a new picture for my license but this time I was allowed to decide the 2007 photo was still good.

          •  I could have done that in MD if I had bothered to (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            a gilas girl

            open the letter in time. All you need in MD is a form signed by your opthamologist about your vision.
            But I waited a couple of days too long (you have to send it in 20 days before your expiration), so had to do it in person. And you can only renew online every other time -- so I decided it was okay because this way I could do it online next time.

            We're not perfect, but they're nuts! -- Barney Frank

            by Tamar on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 08:48:59 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I will probably be able to now... (0+ / 0-)

            as long as I renew before the current one expires.  The problems come in if you don't fit the nice convenient box for which the system is designed, as I didn't when the events I'm describing were taking place.  

            I had renewed my license before it expired online, but the new license got lost in the mail (it was never delivered to me -- a problem I've long had in the very large apartment building I live in) so it was returned to the DMV and they cancelled my license, thinking I had moved out of state.

            By the time I learned all this, my birthday had passed and thus the current license that I held became expired and in those circumstances, renewing on line is not possible and thus began the circus.

            On line services work well, IF all portions of the system are working properly, including the mail delivery system at the final step.  In my case, that was the problem, not so much because the USPS doesn't work, it does, it just doesn't work as well in large apt. complexes with a central mail drop, and sometimes large apartment complexes with a central mail drop don't have adequate policies to handle any mail mix-ups that might occur.  The USPS does a great job with individual home deliveries, but my apartment complex doesn't do such a great job of picking up the slack that our living situations require vis-a-vis the USPS.    

            Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

            by a gilas girl on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 09:56:29 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I wonder what set off the panic attacks for this (0+ / 0-)

          particular activity? I've only experienced something like that once and it's miserable, so I can't imagine having to deal with it more often.
          Have you considered some desensitization therapy -- it's a shame not to be able to get a passport because of this. You're a very cosmopolitan person and need to be free!

          We're not perfect, but they're nuts! -- Barney Frank

          by Tamar on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 08:52:48 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Getting a passport is EASIER. (0+ / 0-)

          Go to the post office, pick up the forms. Get the docs you need, which might be the hardest part. You'll need birth certificate, marriage license/divorce papers/name change docs, and 2 pictures. They might take them at the post office for a fee (ours does). Give the pics and the documents to the clerk (they might only accept new apps at certain times, so check), show ID, give them a check or money order.

          2  - 3 wks later you get your passport. It's good for 10 yrs.

          I've had a passport for the better part of my adult life. Once you get one, you only need to do a renewal, which is even easier. Bring old passport, fill out form, get pics, hand them a check.

        •  when we got our passports, had to have them to (0+ / 0-)

          visit grandparents in BC, it was very simple. of course, I didn't change my name when we got married, and we are still living in the town teh kiddo was born in, and the state I was born in... we just collected the documentation they wanted (not really very much), got the just-so pictures taken (there are dozens of places in town that do US passport pic.s; it wasn't so easy when we were working on teh kiddo's Canadian paperwork!), went down to the main P.O., waited about 10 minutes in the hall, got called back, handed over the papers, he went through them, told us how much to write the check for, and approximately when the passports would get to us.

          We had to get the first set around 2012, because the american border were being REALLY snotty, even for them, in the wake of 9/11, agent was being nasty paranoid about parentally abducted children, as an excuse...

          anyway we have all 4 passports now for the 3 of us (dad has Canadian, I have US and kiddo has both).  

          "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

          by chimene on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 03:55:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  The DMV in California has had deep budget cuts (5+ / 0-)

      but they still offer reservations if you plan early enough you can go and within 5-10 minutes of your reservation be served. You make all the reservations online, it's great.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 09:22:54 PM PDT

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    •  Think it varies by state, and probably county. (4+ / 0-)

      At least converting my Texas license over to a Massachusetts one was very painless.  Left about an hour or so before I normally leave for work, got to the DMV promptly.  They gave me a form and a number.  Filled out the form and sat on a bench in a large waiting area took about 20 to 30 minutes for them to call me, presented my paperwork (SS card, utility bill, old license, I believe), paid with a credit card, and arrived at work only about 20 minutes or so later than normal (I have no set hours, though I did tell my coworkers I might be an hour or two later than usual).  Got new my license in about a week.

      Admittedly, more convenient since I live in a big city, but it was exceptionally painless.

      •  It definitely vaires by county in NY (4+ / 0-)

        Some places in NY the DMV offices are state-run.  These are the worst offices because they little to no incentive to help you.  However, some offices are county owned and workers get a payment for each piece of work they process.  Thus, they have an incentive to help you get the paperwork correct.  If the state was smart they'd implement this for all DMV offices.

    •  HA! You haven't seen anything until you have (10+ / 0-)

      had to deal with the INS (now called ICE). You have no idea how grateful I am that my green card does not expire. I moved from MI to Canada then out to CA. That required getting a new green card. It was horrible. At the time the acronym was Immigration & Naturalization Service. After my third day off of work, driving 50 miles to the INS office, my new name for it was Insolent & Nasty Service. And after waiting for months for my new green card - it arrives in the mail. I open up the envelope and get a good look at the photo of the new me. Apparently, I am now 50+ yrs old and MALE and hispanic. So, I call the info number. nah. Won't even answer. Finally, out of desperation I called their fraud line. Got somebody to answer, tried explaining the situation. They kept blowing me off until I finally screamed into the phone, Look DUDE! I'm a 28 year old white Canadian CHICK!!!! That finally got his attention. He got all serious then. Gave me an address to mail the hispanic guys green card to. MY green card arrived about a month later. Never heard back from them.

      if a habitat is flooded, the improvement for target fishes increases by an infinite percentage...because a habitat suitability index that is even a tiny fraction of 1 is still infinitely higher than zero, which is the suitability of dry land to fishes.

      by mrsgoo on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 10:09:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  big difference between the identities! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mrsgoo, PinHole

        I'm surprised the information was so far off! Glad you were able to sort it out with them.

        •  Let's just say it did not affirm my trust in gov't (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          commonmass, foldingBicycle

          It was 1988. I assumed that somehow the sorting/stuffing automation routine was not quite tested out. In hindsight, it was kind of funny that he wasn't taking me seriously until I literally screamed at him in frustration. Ya know, being Canadian and all, we try to be polite. :)

          if a habitat is flooded, the improvement for target fishes increases by an infinite percentage...because a habitat suitability index that is even a tiny fraction of 1 is still infinitely higher than zero, which is the suitability of dry land to fishes.

          by mrsgoo on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 11:01:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  And then there was the thought that some (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            commonmass, foldingBicycle

            50 yr old hispanic guy probably got MY green card! Can you imagine what he was thinking! Who the hell is that funny lookin' white woman!

            if a habitat is flooded, the improvement for target fishes increases by an infinite percentage...because a habitat suitability index that is even a tiny fraction of 1 is still infinitely higher than zero, which is the suitability of dry land to fishes.

            by mrsgoo on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 11:19:58 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  And people wonder why it was so easy for the (0+ / 0-)

        9/11 attackers to carry out their plan and even pick a day that NORAD would have a hard time responding quickly.  

        There is no saving throw against stupid.

        by Throw The Bums Out on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 01:14:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I've had to deal with the INS (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        commonmass

        was once married to a Canadian who applied for both green card and then citizenship.  Our marriage was an open investigation for a while.

        Boy, was that fun!

        Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

        by a gilas girl on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 01:20:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The Illinois DMV is much better (0+ / 0-)

      now under Jesse White. He has done quite a bit to improve service after the departure and eventual imprisonment of his GOP predecessor. Kudos to Jesse and the DMV workers. My son got his license and registered this year under the motor/voter law and the whole process was well organized and pretty painless. They accept cash, check, and credit cards (no bribes necessary), so payment was easy as well. My compliments to the Illinois DMV and Democrats like Jesse White.

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