Here's a textbook case from Pennsylvania, demonstrating exactly how taking the vote away from women works.
Sherry Skramstad, a 70-year-old Scranton woman, has had a busy, eclectic life: 32 years as a special-education teacher in New York City and state, 17 years as a licensed horse breeder and trainer, publicity director for three racetracks in Pennsylvania and New York state, a freelance writer for newspapers in New York and Wilkes-Barre, and the author of a 2007 book about her sister, who was born with Down syndrome. [...]Skramstad was told that, to get her driver's license, she needed her birth certificate or a current passport. Okay, she has her birth certificate, but that's not enough, because it's not in her now legal name. It would probably easier—although more expensive—for Skramstad to get her passport than to get the piece of ID that will allow her to vote in November.
The basic problem: After two marriages and two divorces, the name on her birth certificate—Sharon Tenzer—is different from the name she has been using for more than 30 years.
And until The Inquirer called the state Department of Transportation last week to inquire about her case, PennDot was telling Skramstad she could not get a Pennsylvania driver's license—the photo ID she will need to vote—unless she could document her name changes, requiring a 50-year-old marriage certificate from North Carolina and a 46-year-old divorce decree from Mexico.
"I have never felt so old and so discriminated against," Skramstad said. "It's not like I worked in a Burger King all my life. I've had a valid New York driver's license since 1974, a real estate license, and a harness racing license."
"These are all state-issued things, and I have plenty of documentation. But they say they won't accept anything without birth and marriage certificates and the divorce documents. . . . I feel like I'm living in the 16th century." [...]
"A person like me, 70 years old with all these documents from state agencies, and I'm not allowed to lease a car, or vote? This is insanity," Skramstad said. "And discrimination against women—a man is born with one name and he keeps it, but there are thousands of women whose names change just like mine did."
She's been trying for months, appealing to the governor's office, her state legislators, the state Office of Aging, the Mexican consulate—anyone and everyone she could think of to help—and was still faced with a brick wall. Until she emailed the Inquirer last week in response to a story they ran on voter ID. Suddenly, she's getting assistance.
The Inquirer called Jan McKnight, a PennDot spokeswoman. McKnight said that on her first visit to a driver licensing center, Skramstad should have been referred to a supervisor to talk about "exception processing," the possibility of getting PennDot ID with only some of the documentation that PennDot normally requires.She "should have been referred" and obviously was not. How many others aren't being referred for exception processing? How many don't have the free time or the energy or the luck to get in touch with the media when they are facing this almost insurmountable barrier? That's exactly what Pennsylvania Republicans are counting on. Remember this:
Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R): "[...] Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done."Sherry Skramstad is just a bump in the road.