I just received a notice on the renewal of my Drivers License in Wisconsin. I've had one since 1969. It now requires I bring a certified copy of my Birth Certificate with me when I renew along with multiple other documents. Not a copy, not something you might have on file, a "certified by the issuing authority" birth certificate. It's an OMG moment for me and it will soon be for others.
Getting a Drivers License renewal used to be a routine thing. Show up with the renewal card which was mailed to you and your Drivers License, drive to the DMV, take a number, have a seat. Wait. Wait some more. Then get the eye test and pay for your renewal. Sit down again. Wait some more. Get called for your picture to be taken. Sit down. Wait. Wait some more. Then get your new Drivers License and you can leave. Task accomplished until it gets close to expiring again and you do it all over again.
This year, it's different. You need to bring several things with you:
Certified copy of your Birth Certificate
Social Security Card
Drivers License (verifies your address and identity)
And if you've had a name change since your birth, you also need
Certified court order, Marriage Certifcate, Judgement of Divorce, or valid passport in your current name
On top of all of that, you have to go on the internet to download and complete a form for your renewal. If you don't (no computer, printer, or access), you can add standing in a separate line to get the form (and fill it out) to your visit to the DMV.
Like many others, I don't have a copy of my Birth Certificate. The last time I needed it was in the mid 1970s when I applied for a passport. I went down to the Courthouse and obtained one to send in with my passport application. Soon I'll need to go again for this newly required "proof", pay for parking (not cheap downtown), wait in a long line, pay $20 (cash only), to get this never-before-asked-for proof that I was born here.
All of this extra expense and bother are necessary because of the Real ID Act as if the increasingly hard to forge Drivers Licenses are somehow bogus.
What this does, however, isn't simply inconvenience a retired nurse with extra time and effort (and expense), but makes me think about how this will affect everyone who needs either a Drivers License or a State ID.
What about someone working a couple of jobs or with kids who need them at home ho don't have the time to spend on this newly time consuming task? How about the folks with no car who need an ID for their bank or (as the GOP hopes) to vote? How about folks who don't have computer access (or a printer) for the new "do it yourself" renewal form. How about people born in another state who will need to undertake a laboreous, costly, and lengthy procedure to obtain a Birth Certificate? What about the senior citizens like my late mother who were born at home with their birth registered only in a book at a Courthouse that burned down decades ago?
Since when does our "ID" need to be backed up with other IDs in order to renew that ID? It doesn't make any sense and will definitely impair people everywhere who need to go through all of this just to be able to vote.
UPDATE: Well, I found the renewal form with a couple of clicks on the DMV web site and it's unchanged from the ones they sent in the mail in the past, so that's done.
For those in the comments suggesting I just process a regular renewal I quote from the renewal instructions I received:
"While all Wisconsin licenses and identification cards will be valid for federal uses for the next few years, at some point before your next renewal, a REAL ID license or identification card will be required for identification at airports and federal buildings. Getting a REAL ID license now will be more convenient - you will not have to return and pay for a duplicate license later."And that's why I need to get this now instead of waiting.