Non-Virginians, Cover Your Eyes (Just Kidding!)

23 Aug

I Thessalonians 5:18, In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 


Most of my coworkers are in Okinawa right now, facing a typhoon.  Those of us who are left behind are in Virginia, watching Hurricane Isaac form up and take strength for an onslaught against the U.S. East Coast or Gulf Coast. 


I am in a relaxed mode at work, with most of the folks who are still here working from home, running errands, and just popping in to the office to make an appearance for several hours a day (if that).    


Thus it is that I took my 20-year-old son to the Virginia DMV yesterday (and again today) to get him a picture ID card, in place of a license, since he doesn’t drive.  The goal was to use the picture ID to register him to vote in the state of Virginia.


If you are not a Virginia resident facing this cumbersome process yourself, you may want to skip down to the “Why It Matters” section, below.


What a difference 24 hours makes.  Yesterday’s trip sent me home for more documentation of Joey’s right to possess a Virginia ID card.  It resulted in an email from me to Scott Rigell, my U.S. representative.  It resulted in a host of Facebook posts commiserating with me about how hard it has gotten to prove Virginia identity since 9/11.  


Yesterday I entered the DMV with:

1)    Joey’s passport

2)    Joey’s military dependent ID (with picture)

3)    Joey’s birth certificate (Virginia)

4)    Joey’s social security card (Virginia)


The first indication of trouble was when the gatekeeper asked for something with Joey’s address on it.  I had my license with our address on it, but Joey had passed the magic line from 19 to 20, three months ago, and my proof of address could not be used.  In all fairness to the DMV, there are two lists of proofs, one of U.S. citizenship and one of Virginia residency, required by the DMV.  I clicked through their website in advance, but canceled out before I got to the part that actually applied on-line for the ID.  That second list must have come after the place where I canceled out!!!


On the other hand, I knew we couldn’t apply on-line for the initial ID, so maybe the website is a bit out-of-order or disorganized.  Just my two cents’ worth.


The second indication of trouble was when I glanced down at the list of proofs of Virginia residency that was handed to me and said that Joey doesn’t possess those things, since he is disabled. 


He doesn’t get utility bills at our address.  We pay for his computer and phone usage.


He doesn’t get pay statements at our address, since he just finished school and isn’t yet employed.


His last two years of school were in an on-line course, out-of-state, so school transcripts would not work either.


He doesn’t have a bank account.


He doesn’t get SSI, because we can support him at present.  Our idea has been to leave SSI for the people who truly need it.  Joey may truly need it later. 


What to do?  Our son finished school at 20 and is not yet employed.  How to prove that he lives at our house?


Thankfully, overnight, my husband found that Joey had been issued a W-2 for a summer training program last year that netted him less than $250 all summer!  We had claimed him as a dependent and included that in our taxes for 2011.  Praise God for that.


We also found a statement of dividends on some money my husband invested for him two years ago.  I don’t think anyone’s accounts paid dividends last year (sad face). 


We also found a Tricare statement from just this month, showing Joey’s medical bills and sent to him at our house. 


So . . . we were able to get his ID card taken care of this morning.


They had a voter registration desk right in the DMV.  When we went over there, I was gun-shy.  We didn’t have Joey’s Virginia ID card, as that is now sent in the mail, post-9/11.  I had the form indicating I had just paid for the card.  And . . . as the lady showed me, it was pre-printed with Joey’s Virginia address, so he was good to go to register to vote!!!


We now have a new voter in our house!  Congratulations, Joey, and thanks for the patience of going through a lot of wickets with me these last two days.


Why It Matters


We have all been hearing a lot in the news about making it easy for U.S. citizens to vote but hard for illegals to vote.


There is a danger there of going too far in either direction.


For those concerned about voter fraud, even though you don’t have to show a picture ID to vote in Virginia, you have to show a picture ID to register.  And when you vote without a picture ID, your vote is only provisional until they can verify your identity. 


So the only way to commit fraud is to show up and claim to be someone else who is legally on their rolls.  That would probably be caught when the other person came in to vote.  Unless the other person is dead.


In either case, someone would have to do a whole lot of research to pull off voter fraud.  It would not be a casual crime.


And I am here to tell you that the bar has been raised very high in making it difficult to register to vote right now!  It has probably gone too far in the direction of making it too hard for everyone.


I told the lady who registered Joey that we had been in the day before and about all of the documentation we brought.  She was astonished that we had had to go home for more documentation before we could get Joey a state ID. 


I reminded her that we are encouraging people to vote, but people who are poor or disabled or both would find the process to be utterly confusing and maybe hopeless.  Most of them would not have a mom able to take two halfdays off from work to help them unravel the confusion. 


That taught me a lot about civics.  It also taught me, again, to give thanks.  I was the same person yesterday and today.  Yet yesterday, the gatekeeper came at me with a hostile/”there is no way you can do this” attitude and totally threw me off balance.  I didn’t raise my voice, but I talked fast, as I do when I am nervous.  I mentioned that Joey is disabled and that the Americans with Disabilities Act guaranteed him the right to vote.  Unimpressed, she told me she wasn’t aware of the act, but that I needed to find something on her list of documents or I was out of luck!


Today, I had a different gatekeeper, a helpful person when our form was finished, and a wonderful voter registrar. 


God sent me all of those people, even the negative one.  In every thing, give thanks . . .



One Response to “Non-Virginians, Cover Your Eyes (Just Kidding!)”

  1. Ray Fulayter August 23, 2012 at 8:19 PM #

    This is a great example of Facing Life’s Challenges. We have had a few recently as well. We had several real blessings as well.

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