My daughter and I voted in Florida's primary before I went on vacation last week. Hubby is still an independent, so there was nothing for him to vote for or against. Florida passed a VOTER Suppression law and this was my first election that would make my Voter Registration Card invalid Identification for voting purposes.
Voting was no problem for us because we have valid Florida Driver's Licenses. Yes, we had valid birth certificates, proof of active social security numbers and 2 valid proofs of our residential address when we got our Driver's Licenses.
In our post 9/11 world a Republican majority in 2005 passed the REAL ID Act requiring the States update their State ID and Driver's License issuance requirements so State ID"s and Driver's Licenses could be used for ID to fly or enter federal buildings. The REAL ID Act is now the basis for Voter ID laws in about 31 states. Laws that disproportionately affect voters most likely to vote for Democrats. People who are poor. People who are minorities and people the GOP wants to marginalize. Florida is one of those states that disenfranchises voters.
What does it take to meet Voter ID criteria?
You have to have a government issued ID with a digital photograph of you such as is found on a Driver's License, State ID or Passport. You can use any photo ID of the following: military ID, a credit card or debit card, Student ID, Retirement Center ID and neighborhood association IDs. I was tempted to use my credit card with my picture on it, but I was pressed for time and didn't. The easiest to use is the DL or State ID.
Getting a Driver's License or State ID
If you're a man, single woman or married woman retaining her birth name, you need:
proof of an active social security number - a pay stub or recent document (less than 60 days old) using that number.
2 proofs of residential address
If you are married and changed your name or were married and retained your married name, you need:
marriage license (or divorce decree showing she retained her married name)
proof of social security number - a pay stub or recent document (less than 60 days old) using that number.
2 proofs of residential address
If you are transgender, I'm not sure what additional hoops you get to jump through, but I am sure it will be be both excruciating and aggravating.
If you live in a stable environment, have a decently paid job and don't move very often, these are easy lists to complete. In fact, about 74% of a polled population doesn't see voter ID as a big deal. The marriage certificate is the most likely disqualifier for married and divorced women. Proof of an active Social Security Number is most difficult for the unemployed. If you are transgender, your current gender, if it doesn't match your birth declared gender, will be the sticking point.
If you are a hoarder, pack rat or someone who is simply "organized" you have these documents. If you aren't, well, you get to replace them. If you had your act together, but lost the documents due to fire, hurricane, tornado, theft or other unforeseen disaster, you get to replace them.
Good luck with that.
If you have nothing, no ID whatsoever, you have to prove who you are to get what you need to prove who you are.
The utter senselessness of this exercise is lost on people hell bent on promoting The REAL ID ACT which is behind the current Voter ID laws. In the post 9/11 world you have to prove your identity to open a financial account, get a Driver's License, State ID, and Social Security Number. To get these documents, you must show your Birth Certificate or Passport. To get a passport you must show your Birth Certificate. To get a copy of your Birth Certificate you must declare why you need it (i.e. to get a Driver's License, State ID or Passport). Playing the paper chase game isn't a problem if you have the time and means to do so. It's an unnecessary impediment if you don't.
Birth Certificates in Florida cost $15 (more now) when I got my daughter's some years ago and I had to show my Driver's License to get it. I've heard anywhere from $35 to the $75 I had to pay for mine. Not much unless you live at the poverty rate. Paying $35 for a birth certificate could easily mean no food on the table or skipping on paying a utility bill. Paying $75 can mean no bus pass for a month.
Proof of an active social security number - not a problem if you have a job, just take last week's pay stub. If you are retired, you can use a copy of your last social security statement or a recent statement from any of your financial accounts. If you are unemployed and still receiving benefits, print out a statement from the Unemployment web site and you're good to go. Oh, wait, you're unemployed and the printer is on the fritz. Let's see I can take the bus to the library or internet cafe and print it there....that would be $5. I could go to the Social Security Office - oh, yeah they closed the one near me (and I have to show my non-existent Driver's License or State ID to get a statement). Having proof of an active Social Security Number is not a problem if you have money in the bank - a big deal if you don't. Unemployeed and past 99 weeks? You're SOL. What if you are underemployed or work for cash? What if you don't have a checking or savings account? Too bad, so sad - you don't get ID, don't vote and you might as well eat some worms and die since you don't exist anyway.
Proofs of residence? Not a problem if you receive financial statements by snail mail. If you live with family, you may need to change the name of an account to comply with this one. If you move frequently, good luck. If you elected to receive your statements via email - that could be a problem if you can't print them out or if the government worker won't accept email printouts.
These concepts are beyond 74% of the people who answer Voter ID polls. What's notable is that the Washington Post's polled population was most likely to have the proper ID and because of that fact; they are for voter ID. The population that would never (or rarely) be polled would likely to have a different opinion on this subject. The Washington Post doesn't look at this concept or at the idea that the whiter, richer and more conservative people polled favor Voter ID.
About 5 million people will be disenfranchised due to these Voter ID laws. That's about 2% of the National voter pool - enough to skew an election's results. These people live in swing states. Disenfranchising them is sure to skew the election.
I know a lot of people who live off the grid. They do odd jobs for cash. Some are self-employed and make a lot of money, over $100k per year, who work with cash and money orders. Some simply don't like the lack of privacy of our current, modern world and take pains to stay off the financial grid. They are truly American, but don't like the post 9/11 invasion of privacy.
What we are left with is a solution to a non-problem becoming a problem. That suits the hypocritical GOP just fine. This is the party who decries big government, but doesn't mind a big government power grab when it suits them. The same party who promotes deregulation of corporations and over regulation of individual people. The same party that cries out for freedom, then gives up their freedom to feel "safe" (whatever that means). The hypocrisy of Tea Party being against the Real ID Act but for Voter ID laws is the quintessential evidence of the absurdity of these arguments.
I spoke with a Republican on this subject last week. They thought Voter ID was just fine until I asked when they had to renew their Driver's License (it's next year). She was upset that she would need to find a copy of her marriage license or divorce decree before she could renew her license. "But that's wrong!"
It sure is, but not in the way you think it is.
Update: Thanks for the rescue
Section 202 of the REAL ID Act that deals with Identification Standards
SEC. 202. MINIMUM DOCUMENT REQUIREMENTS AND ISSUANCE STANDARDS FOR FEDERAL RECOGNITION.
(a) Minimum Standards for Federal Use-
(1) IN GENERAL- Beginning 3 years after the date of the enactment of this division, a Federal agency may not accept, for any official purpose, a driver's license or identification card issued by a State to any person unless the State is meeting the requirements of this section.
(2) STATE CERTIFICATIONS- The Secretary shall determine whether a State is meeting the requirements of this section based on certifications made by the State to the Secretary. Such certifications shall be made at such times and in such manner as the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation, may prescribe by regulation.
(b) Minimum Document Requirements- To meet the requirements of this section, a State shall include, at a minimum, the following information and features on each driver's license and identification card issued to a person by the State:
(1) The person's full legal name.
(2) The person's date of birth.
(3) The person's gender.
(4) The person's driver's license or identification card number.
(5) A digital photograph of the person.
(6) The person's address of principle residence.
(7) The person's signature.
(8) Physical security features designed to prevent tampering, counterfeiting, or duplication of the document for fraudulent purposes.
(9) A common machine-readable technology, with defined minimum data elements.
(c) Minimum Issuance Standards-
(1) IN GENERAL- To meet the requirements of this section, a State shall require, at a minimum, presentation and verification of the following information before issuing a driver's license or identification card to a person:
(A) A photo identity document, except that a non-photo identity document is acceptable if it includes both the person's full legal name and date of birth.
(B) Documentation showing the person's date of birth.
(C) Proof of the person's social security account number or verification that the person is not eligible for a social security account number.
(D) Documentation showing the person's name and address of principal residence.
(2) SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS-
(A) IN GENERAL- To meet the requirements of this section, a State shall comply with the minimum standards of this paragraph.
(B) EVIDENCE OF LAWFUL STATUS- A State shall require, before issuing a driver's license or identification card to a person, valid documentary evidence that the person--
(i) is a citizen or national of the United States;
(ii) is an alien lawfully admitted for permanent or temporary residence in the United States;
(iii) has conditional permanent resident status in the United States;
(iv) has an approved application for asylum in the United States or has entered into the United States in refugee status;
(v) has a valid, unexpired nonimmigrant visa or nonimmigrant visa status for entry into the United States;
(vi) has a pending application for asylum in the United States;
(vii) has a pending or approved application for temporary protected status in the United States;
(viii) has approved deferred action status; or
(ix) has a pending application for adjustment of status to that of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States or conditional permanent resident status in the United States.
(C) TEMPORARY DRIVERS' LICENSES AND
(i) IN GENERAL- If a person presents evidence under any of clauses (v) through (ix) of subparagraph (B), the State may only issue a temporary driver's license or temporary identification card to the person.
(ii) EXPIRATION DATE- A temporary driver's license or temporary identification card issued pursuant to this subparagraph shall be valid only during the period of time of the applicant's authorized stay in the United States or, if there is no definite end to the period of authorized stay, a period of one year.
(iii) DISPLAY OF EXPIRATION DATE- A temporary driver's license or temporary identification card issued pursuant to this subparagraph shall clearly indicate that it is temporary and shall state the date on which it expires.
(iv) RENEWAL- A temporary driver's license or temporary identification card issued pursuant to this subparagraph may be renewed only upon presentation of valid documentary evidence that the status by which the applicant qualified for the temporary driver's license or temporary identification card has been extended by the Secretary of Homeland Security.
(3) VERIFICATION OF DOCUMENTS- To meet the requirements of this section, a State shall implement the following procedures:
(A) Before issuing a driver's license or identification card to a person, the State shall verify, with the issuing agency, the issuance, validity, and completeness of each document required to be presented by the person under paragraph (1) or (2).
(B) The State shall not accept any foreign document, other than an official passport, to satisfy a requirement of paragraph (1) or (2).
(C) Not later than September 11, 2005, the State shall enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Secretary of Homeland Security to routinely utilize the automated system known as Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements, as provided for by section 404 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (110 Stat. 3009-664), to verify the legal presence status of a person, other than a United States citizen, applying for a driver's license or identification card.
(d) Other Requirements- To meet the requirements of this section, a State shall adopt the following practices in the issuance of drivers' licenses and identification cards:
(1) Employ technology to capture digital images of identity source documents so that the images can be retained in electronic storage in a transferable format.
(2) Retain paper copies of source documents for a minimum of 7 years or images of source documents presented for a minimum of 10 years.
(3) Subject each person applying for a driver's license or identification card to mandatory facial image capture.
(4) Establish an effective procedure to confirm or verify a renewing applicant's information.
(5) Confirm with the Social Security Administration a social security account number presented by a person using the full social security account number. In the event that a social security account number is already registered to or associated with another person to which any State has issued a driver's license or identification card, the State shall resolve the discrepancy and take appropriate action.
(6) Refuse to issue a driver's license or identification card to a person holding a driver's license issued by another State without confirmation that the person is terminating or has terminated the driver's license.
(7) Ensure the physical security of locations where drivers' licenses and identification cards are produced and the security of document materials and papers from which drivers' licenses and identification cards are produced.
(8) Subject all persons authorized to manufacture or produce drivers' licenses and identification cards to appropriate security clearance requirements.
(9) Establish fraudulent document recognition training programs for appropriate employees engaged in the issuance of drivers' licenses and identification cards.
(10) Limit the period of validity of all driver's licenses and identification cards that are not temporary to a period that does not exceed 8 years.
(11) In any case in which the State issues a driver's license or identification card that does not satisfy the requirements of this section, ensure that such license or identification card--
(A) clearly states on its face that it may not be accepted by any Federal agency for federal identification or any other official purpose; and
(B) uses a unique design or color indicator to alert Federal agency and other law enforcement personnel that it may not be accepted for any such purpose.
(12) Provide electronic access to all other States to information contained in the motor vehicle database of the State.
(13) Maintain a State motor vehicle database that contains, at a minimum--
(A) all data fields printed on drivers' licenses and identification cards issued by the State; and
(B) motor vehicle drivers' histories, including motor vehicle violations, suspensions, and points on licenses.