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Try #2: So today I gathered up many proofs of ID and residency, and headed for the DMV to again try to transfer my out of state license and thereby ensure I have the required voting ID. This morning, I re-checked the website to ensure I had the location and the times open exactly right, for the Penn Hills DMV.

The bus ride to the DMV site took an hour. I went to Penn Hills DMV (11620 Keleket Drive, Pittsburgh, PA), the closest one that had Saturday hours, as I had previously spent a whole workday morning on try #1 to get voter ID. (Which didn't work out, as I previously diaried.) Got to the front door, and there was a sign saying "Closed Sept. 1 & 3  LABOR DAY".

I checked, and the next return bus was in almost an hour. So, I wasted a total of 3 hours today, on yet another failed trip to the DMV for a voter ID.

If the website had simply and obviously said that DMV was closed (on whichever days of the year it is closed on), I would not have wasted my time. I took a photo of the sign on the door, and in the few minutes it took me to do that, two different groups of people came up to the door, and tried the locked door. By the way, the DMV location is in a high-percentage Black neighborhood, and both those groups of people were Black. (I am not, but it is significant that in the 3 minutes I was there, 2 out of 3 people who couldn't get ID were Black.)

There are many barriers to getting a State ID, and the barriers are unequally distributed by race and wealth. I am determined to get my ID, and so I will make a third trip to the DMV to do it (and a fourth, and a fifth if necessary). But I'm sharing my stories about the barriers I experience with my attempts, so people will understand how the GOP voter suppression works. Part of the suppression is by making it so time-consuming and frustrating that people give up and don't return to try again, and don't get their voter ID. It turns out I missed one of the many instructions, starting from here for people moving into state and needing to change their license. I had thought I read all of them, but it turns out I should have clicked on a separate small link within that page that separately listed all the days DMV offices close. (which they didn't bother to put on the Penn Hills DMV hours/days open page). So, my bad for not having a PhD in DMV-rule-traversing. But obviously, since 2 other groups of people tried the same thing just within the 3 minutes I was at the DMV office front door, a lot of other people missed some of the crucial details as well. I don't blame us, I blame the inconvenient DMV hours and days, and I blame the GOP for trying to suppress the vote by taking advantage of demographic differences and Pennsylvania's bad DMV bureaucracies. It should not be so hard to get ID for voting!!!  

By the way, here's a link (to a PDF) for the required ID and residency proofs, to transfer a license from out of state: required ID and residency proofs

UPDATE: I just found out that for people who never had a state ID in PA, before, they're issuing only temporary valid-only-2-weeks IDs that need to be replaced!It turns out the first ID they'll give me (and everyone else new to having PA state ID) will only be valid for 15 days! However, voter ID requirements require that the ID be currently valid. So... even once I get the driver's license, the version I get at first won't be useable for voting (unless within 2 weeks), and then who knows what bureaucracy will be required - do I have to take a whole another morning off of a work day? I sure hope not! That would mean everyone who gets through all the previous hurdles has yet another hurdle to overcome... and some people will lose their vote.

Originally posted to foldingBicycle on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 04:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by DKos Pennsylvania.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Keep trying! We need your vote! (15+ / 0-)

    Seriously, PA is kind of a mess.  Thanks for your efforts.

    "The next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be president of the United States, please, pay attention." Molly Ivins

    by janmtairy on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 04:16:17 PM PDT

  •  This is useful. (11+ / 0-)

    Recounting your own experiences puts us in the shoes of those who must traverse the insane minefield of voter ID.  Keep at it, and keep us informed, please.  :-)

    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

    by luckylizard on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 04:24:34 PM PDT

  •  The PENNDOT website and county elections websites (7+ / 0-)

    aren't exactly prizewinners, it makes the brain hurt just renewing one's license plate registration annually.

    I hope the municipal election boards up there in Penn Hills have been trained on how to properly ask for ID and can inform folks what alternatives voters who show up without IDs on election day have.

     Don't hold your breath waiting for your county's election board to  explain what they and our Department of State  have done since 2008 that was so terrible that PA now requires voter IDs after 236 years of running elections in the Commonwealth where they weren't ever required before.  

    Although there is no State funding for polling worker training, apparently there are a couple of bucks set aside to run an ad campaign.  

    Expect to see some small print like a side effects disclaimer in the back pages of Modern Proctology (don't forget to bend over and press all the levers).  

    Perhaps the can aford to run  a 30 second tasty-cake like infomercial  a few times on the Mexican wrestling cable channel, bueno suerte con eso.

    Don't despair in your attempts, we need your vote but, damn, this is one onerous and ridiculous law, despite what its appologists might have some believe.

    "I'll press your flesh, you dimwitted sumbitch! " -Pappy O'Daniel

    by jakewaters on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 04:39:15 PM PDT

  •  As the saying goes, "Don't let the bastards win". (8+ / 0-)

    Keep trying!

  •  Wow, sorry you are going through this (7+ / 0-)

    Thanks for posting; I'm moving back to Philadelphia the middle of the month and want to be sure my husband and I  can vote.

    "I have spent many years of my life in opposition and I rather like the role." - Eleanor Roosevelt. I would like to add that I am a happy atheist!

    by Rogneid on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 05:29:30 PM PDT

    •  Good to know ahead! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lujane, chimene, kurt

      I'm really glad my 'lessons learned' can help other people doing the same thing. You can do it!! But it sure will help to start early and use all lessons learned :-) Checkbook or cashiers check (no cash or credit cards) requirements exist, at least in Pittsburgh - that was my lesson on try #1.

      I don't think the following will apply to you two though, since you said you are "moving back". But for people who never had a state ID in PA, before, they're issuing temporary valid-only-2-weeks IDs that need to be replaced!I'm going to add info about it to the diary: It turns out the first ID they'll give me will only be valid for 15 days! However, voter ID requirements require that the ID be currently valid. So... even once I get the driver's license, the version I get at first won't be useable for voting (unless within 2 weeks), and then who knows what bureaucracy will be required - do I have to take a whole another morning off of a work day? I sure hope not!

      •  From looking (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Stwriley, foldingBicycle, Sylv, kurt

        at the FAQs on the link about it as long as their program doesn't think you are someone else they automatically send you the real one after the facial recognition software check

        While the customer is at a PennDOT Driver License Center, all initial verifications to prove identity and
        residency prior to issuing the temporary DL or Photo ID card (i.e. verification of Social Security number,
        birth certificate, immigration/naturalization credentials) is completed. Using state-of-the-art facial recognition
        technology, the 15-day period is used to validate the individual’s photograph does not match another
        photograph in PennDOT’s database under a different driver name(s), thereby further aiding PennDOT in
        identifying individuals who have potentially committed identity theft. Once this validation is completed,
        individuals receive their permanent DL or Photo ID card in the mail within 15 days. In addition, PennDOT
        also uses this state-of-the-art facial recognition technology for the same purpose when an individual has
        their photo taken for their driver’s license/identification card renewal.
        The
        •  yeah, that's why the temp is 15-day, they expect (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Stwriley, foldingBicycle, Alma, Sylv

          the facial recognition stuff to take about 15 days. once that is done, they automatically mail you the "real", permanent license.

          although I think the last time I had to get a new photo on a renewal here in Oregon it took more like 3 weeks? well, I guess maybe PA is closer to wherever the facial-rec-machines are (snark).

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

          by chimene on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 12:46:49 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The 15 day window... (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            foldingBicycle, Ahianne, Alma, Sylv

            seems to cover everything (at least as I read the FAQ.) That is, they have 15 days (per the 2007 regs that established the facial recognition check) to complete the check and mail you the permanent card. The FAQ quite clearly says that you will receive the permanent version within the 15 day window.

            This actually make a lot of sense; otherwise the state itself would be forcing legitimate drivers that it has just licensed to (at least briefly) either lose their valid driving privileges or drive without a valid license on their person (which is, of course, illegal.)  Since the whole thing was initiated to stop identity theft and fraud, all they're really trying to do is make sure you don't have another PA license in a different name. Facial recognition is a fairly obvious way to do that, since it's a lot harder to fool than any other method they could use.

            So don't panic over the 15 day temporary license; you'll either have it (still valid) or your new permanent license to vote with.

            That's assuming you can ever find an open PennDOT office in the first place, of course.

            Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. Sun Tzu The Art of War

            by Stwriley on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 05:17:02 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  hmm, I thought the facial recognition was run (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Stwriley

              through a lot more than just the individual state database... like, some national DHS thing, checking for terrists & illegal immigrants? maybe that's just my paranoid showing, 8-)

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

              by chimene on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 01:04:55 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Nope, just PennDOT's own database. (0+ / 0-)

                Here's the section from the PennDOT FAQ on Temporary Driver's Licenses:

                Using state-of-the-art facial recognition technology, the 15-day period is used to validate the individual’s photograph does not match another photograph in PennDOT’s database under a different driver name(s), thereby further aiding PennDOT in identifying individuals who have potentially committed identity theft. Once this validation is completed, individuals receive their permanent DL or Photo ID card in the mail within 15 days.
                So this is a pretty limited use of facial recognition, besides being limited to the 15 day window provided by the Temporary Driver's License. They are pretty clear that they're not using this in any other way except as a screening tool to prevent individuals from holding more than one driver's license. They also make clear that the Temporary DL is functionally identical to the Permanent DL:
                Before a temporary product is issued, all verifications to prove identity and residency are completed (i.e. verification of Social Security number, birth certificate, immigration/naturalization credentials, and residency documents). Therefore, businesses should recognize the temporary product as an official PennDOT document. [emphasis mine]

                Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. Sun Tzu The Art of War

                by Stwriley on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 02:41:56 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks - reassuring to know! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Alma

          Thank you for checking that out. It's reassuring to know they will mail it, and another DMV visit won't be required!

  •  what about (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rebel ga, foldingBicycle

    calling before you make the trip.

    •  Geat Ides cryonaut! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      foldingBicycle, Ahianne, kurt

      It's best to call any business to make sure they're open. But PA DMV is not supposed to be closed on Fri.

      That weekend law says if a Federal Holiday Falls on a weekend it's to be officially observed on that Monday. Labor Day, is on a Monday. Friday is not a day off.

      PA gop just don't want people to vote.

      Someone, has big plans for Pennsylvania. Such a beautiful state too!

      The Ongoing Saga Of Spectra Gas In NJ & NY/And I Love Kossacks!

      Fracking - Explained In Two Minutes

      Brought To You By That Crazed Sociologist/Media Fanatic rebel ga Be The Change You Want To See In The World! Gandhi

      by rebel ga on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 06:42:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This one has normal Sat. hours (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rebel ga, Stwriley, Ahianne

        I believe what you wrote - that the GOP is trying to stop Democrats from voting.

        Regarding the DMV hours: Most of the Pittsburgh DMVs are only open M-F, during first shift hours (so not convenient for me, because that's when I'm working). This particular place normally has Saturday hours, but not this weekend.

      •  Diarist talking about experience today (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        foldingBicycle, rebel ga, Stwriley
        The bus ride to the DMV site took an hour. I went to Penn Hills DMV (11620 Keleket Drive, Pittsburgh, PA), the closest one that had Saturday hours, as I had previously spent a whole workday morning on try #1 to get voter ID. (Which didn't work out, as I previously diaried.) Got to the front door, and there was a sign saying "Closed Sept. 1 & 3  LABOR DAY".


        Are all Republicans crazy?

        by raster44 on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 07:43:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Sure wish I had, now (0+ / 0-)

      Sometimes phone trees are a frustrating time-waster themselves. But in this case, I sure wish I had called first!

  •  Tell the ACLU your story... (6+ / 0-)

    ...even just links to your diaries may interest someone over there. I'm no lawyer, but I'm fairly certain this issue will be in the courts again and even anecdotal evidence may help our side.

    http://www.aclupa.org/...

    If you or someone you know will be unable to vote in the 2012 election because of difficulty in obtaining a photo ID, please contact us at (877) 424-ACLU (2258) or voterid@aclupa.org or fill out our Voter ID Intake Form (available in pdf format, Spanish language pdf format, and online form). We are still taking information about potential clients even though the lawsuit has been filed.

    Everything Right is Wrong Again - TMBG (lyrics)

    by GreenPA on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 06:28:57 PM PDT

  •  PennDOT and the DMV (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chimene, Stwriley

    are the same thing in PA.

    btw they're always closed for all holiday weekends.

    (welcome to Pennsylvania! This is how it's always run--irritating and slow and unlikely to change with almost a quarter of the population over 55.)

    pseudoscience can kill

    by terrypinder on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 08:14:57 PM PDT

  •  You must be doing this on purpose. (0+ / 0-)

    [blockquote]Looking for a Driver License or Photo Center, On-Line Messenger Service Center,
    Third Party CDL Tester or Temporary Authority Agent in your area? You've come
    to the right place! Search from your zip code and see the approximate driving
    distance, or search by selecting a county. Just follow the three easy steps below.
    NOTE: Please check hours of operation before visiting any Driver License or Photo
    Center. Also, for a listing of Driver License and Photo Center holiday closings,
    please click here . PennDOT does not publish individual Driver License and Photo
    Center telephone numbers. If you need assistance pertaining to a particular
    PennDOT Driver License or Photo Center, our Driver and Vehicle Services
    Customer Call Center staff will gladly assist you. Please call 1-800-932-4600 for
    assistance.

    NOTE: Please contact On-Line Messengers directly to verify their hours of
    operation. On-Line Messengers charge a service fee in addition to PennDOT's
    standard driver and vehicle services fees. On-Line Messenger service fees are set
    by each individual messenger service and may vary. There is no additional fee for
    customers who are having only their photo taken at a photo center located at an
    On-Line Messenger.

    PennDOT Driver License and Photo License Centers only accept payment by check
    or money order. No cash or credit cards are accepted.
    To find a location near you, please follow the directions below:[/blockquote]

    We cant help it if you dont read.

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