Making Documentation Difficult is tied to Voting

My driver’s license is up for renewal.  This is the top of the email that I have now received several times from NY State.  New York offers three types of license documents: Enhanced, REAL ID and Standard. If you have a Standard license, you will not be allowed to board a domestic flight starting in October 2020 (unless you have a Passport). If you plan to travel, we recommend you upgrade while you renew in a DMV office, and avoid a second visit.

For decades people have always used the license to prove their identity when flying.  Change is coming from the Real ID Act, under the TSA, as if the license wasn’t good enough.  It goes under the fear tactics that have been used starting with Dick Cheney’s color status’s after 9/11 and this is being used to make it more difficult for people to vote.  It is all tied into one bucket.

I am missing my social security card in my files.  I need to get one in order to obtain the new enhanced license.  Ends up that in order to get a new social security card, the agency needs access to your credit reports.  They use Equifax which makes me wonder how much Equifax got paid for that one.  We have everything locked down after getting hacked so this is just another step.  It took me time and energy to figure all of this out.  Now I will be able to get the card and get the new license but the process is far from seamless.

Where is the data showing that this new enhanced license is a necessary change to get from state to state?  Just like people having to verify their voter registration that has worked for decades.  Where is this all coming from?  It is becoming more difficult to vote by requiring people to get forms of ID.  These new restrictions are an attempt to suppress votes from the youth and poor people. The underlying reason is to supposedly combat voter fraud so where is the data that there is any voter fraud?

Making it difficult to obtain a social security card, a new license and the ability to vote appears to be part of the new normal of fear creation from the Republican party to make sure that they stay in power and have an advantage.  What does that say if they wouldn’t we want every vote to count?

Comments (Archived):

  1. Pointsandfigures

    Except in NYC and NY state, it’s the Dems that run things. I don’t think you can blame a party here but you can blame a massive bureaucracy. When they decided to create a new agency after 9/11, I was 100% against it. I do think we need to be very wary of voter fraud. Having an ID to vote isn’t necessarily a bad idea since you need an ID for so many other things in society. I don’t think the reason people stay home and not vote is tied to political parties either. They might not feel like their vote makes a difference. Especially in a country that has a lot of gerrymandering. Gerrymandering isn’t party centric either since both have expertise in it. See

  2. Lisa Abeyta

    Somewhere back in the 80’s or early 90’s, we started making it a lot easier to get a drivers license in New Mexico. The main goal was to get more drivers on the road to have a license and, more importantly, insurance. We had one of the highest uninsured rates in the nation. By separating out the need to prove citizenship from getting a drivers license, we solved that problem. We, along with several other states with high numbers of undocumented immigrants, were part of the compromise with Homeland Security that led to the tiered licenses, because we didn’t want to roll citizenship back into being allowed to get a license to operate a vehicle.My daughter recently lost her birth certificate and social security card during a move, and she is still working through the layers of bureaucracy to try to get them replaced. You’re right – the system makes it incredibly hard – and expensive for someone who is low income – to get these documents now.

    1. LE

      The main goal was to get more drivers on the road to have a license and, more importantly, insurance. We had one of the highest uninsured rates in the nation. By separating out the need to prove citizenship from getting a drivers license, we solved that problem.I actually think that it’s possible (note I say possible) that that is simply a way for it to be sold to the public. Because it seems to make intuitive sense in people’s mind. It’s an easy sell.Because at the base it makes zero sense to issue licenses to people who are here illegally. If someone is here illegally then it would seem to be the opposite. If they get caught in a traffic stop and don’t have a license then it seems fairly trivial to use that to the advantage in deporting them for example. Before they establish roots and it is more difficult to do so. This is not a judgement for or against illegal immigration and I am not taking a side in my statement. Just stating a realistic way to view this and calling out the stated reason ‘keep the roads safer’. [1]The way this was presented seems almost like a ‘can’t get the kids to clean the kitchen’ type excuse. By government who doesn’t want to solve the underlying problem and/or accept that there is a benefit to having people here illegally and being able to deport them at will if it serves some other purpose. Meanwhile keep them on a short leash and allow them to get licenses and what not and say it is being done for the reason you state. By giving citizenship you loose control. By withholding citizenship you keep control in at least some ways.[1] So in other words someone who is 16 has to jump through hoops to get a license and drive legally however someone who is from a different country does not. By the way what happens to people here illegally that don’t have birth certificates. Seems likely that some people flee w/o that, right? What happens then? You just look at them and say ‘seems old enough to drive?’. Also if you try to drive here w/o a license (say it’s been taken away) what happens to you? You don’t get a pass. You can in fact be thrown in jail. So what we do is simply give people who have entered illegally a right that people here don’t even have (they would get thrown in jail).

  3. Steven Kane

    i think maybe you’re being a little overly broad and judgmental? this is no fiendish GOP plot. the basic ideas in the Real ID Act had bipartisan support when passed. there have been unfortunately unsuccessful efforts to revise and modify the law, but again, always bipartisan any case, the ideas behind these new IDs are, 1) the USA has no national ID, which has made state issued drivers licenses de facto national IDS. 2) that’s perfectly ok, but there was no regulation or standardization of state issued drivers licenses and IDs, creating too much confusion and risk in a post-9-11 world, and there should be, 3) modern technology should be used when issuing IDs, but states were sorely and frustratingly unwilling to take advantage of modern tech and 4) the standardization should be common sense stuff (and arguably it really is –… ) but the transition will be a messy and painful so it should happen slowly, and since states do require people to periodically renew licenses lets use that framework.Ok, well so far so good? The problem is states did nothing until the final deadline, now, so the transition is more painful than necessary. (In other words, the law was in effect five years ago when i renewed my MA drivers license… but MA didn’t make me get a new license that conformed to the new law because there were still a bunch of years before the boom was to be lowered.) In any case, i, for one, am old enough to remember when such a change happened before — foir example, when CA (where I then lived) and MA switched to new forms of drivers license for their own reasons. That sucked. Just like what you’re going through sucks. But may I humbly submit, the end result is worth it. Standardization of government IDs is a good thing for so many reasons and will definitely help law enforcement all over the law enforcement map of duties. Plus drivers licenses are optional, there is no government requirement people get one. so this is not a tax by another name.I loathe government bureacracy and red tape and the use of same to squelch individual freedoms and rights. But I think this type of reform will be a positive in that respect. when everyone makes the admittedly painful switchover, there will be less bureaucracy, less red tape, less Kafka-esque opacity.Hell, a guy’s got to have dreams, doesn’t he? 🙂

    1. Gotham Gal

      Overly broad? Fair enough!

    2. Erin

      Canada doesn’t have a national ID. What confusion does it cause if every state issues their own ID?

      1. Steven Kane

        Lack of uniformity makes it impossible for law enforcement to judge authenticity

        1. Erin

          What about putting some kind of uniform hologram-y type thing on your licences? That’s what we do.

          1. Steven Kane

            that’s part of the new law’s requirements, actually 🙂

      2. JLM

        .In fact, that is exactly what is done in the US and as you note we use a hologram-y type thing.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  4. JLM

    .The Real ID Act was passed in response to 9-11 and had bipartisan support. It passed as a rider to a larger appropriation bill by 368-58 in the House and 100-0 in the Senate.There are three important things in the bill:1. Tamper proof, forgery proof drivers licenses (holograms);2. Certain anti-terror provisions; and,3. The creation of a national license ID database – tantamount to a national identity card. <<< Interestingly enough, this is the big one. It is important to smoke out multiple identities.Each state was subject to the same deadline. Texas complied in 2008. When you get any kind of drivers license in Texas, it meets all the requirements of the Real ID Act.If you have a beef in NY state, it is the Democratic legislature which is at fault. They could have done this more than a decade ago.As an Election Judge, I can assure you that the ability to vote in the US has become easier and easier, not harder.First, every county in the US has to maintain a voter roll. A voter has to be on the roll (in most jurisdictions for 30 days) BEFORE the date of the election.When placed on the roll, the voter receives a Voter Registration Card every two years. That is all they ever need to vote for the rest of their lives.You can obtain a voter registration application at the county, libraries, high schools, post offices, drivers license facilities, and a myriad of other locations. Both political parties provide voter registration efforts. One can obtain applications on line. Many states have a Motor Voter registration effort (driven by Federal law).To be able to register an individual has to provide proof of citizenship and age.In Texas you may offer the following proof: Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS, Texas personal identification card issued by DPS, Texas concealed handgun license issued by DPS, United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph, United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph, or a United States passport.On election day, a voter arrives at the polling place — places like Texas have 3-6 weeks of early voting and allow a voter to go to any polling place to vote – and a clerk validates their presence on the voting rolls.On election day, if the voter’s name appears on the voting rolls, they may identify themselves with any of the following: copy or original of a government document that shows the voter’s name and an address, including the voter’s voter registration certificate; copy of or original current utility bill; copy of or original bank statement; copy of or original government check; copy of or original paycheck; or copy of or original of (a) a certified domestic (from a U.S. state or territory) birth certificate or (b) a document confirming birth admissible in a court of law which establishes the voter’s identity (which may include a foreign birth document).A freakin’ utility bill! A bank statement!Who advanced this liberal legislation in Texas? The Republican legislature.What you cannot do is not be a citizen. Only citizens can vote in the US.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…


    I’ve learned a lot about this from a startup in our space.The bill was passed after 9/11 because a few guys with compromised IDs boarded a plane.By compromised, I mean that the fake IDs sold to students to get into bars have also been sold and been renewed by DMV – they are now valid and baked into the system.Today, the REAL ID Act requires multiple proofs to verify that you are the real owner.This is just the beginning, because proving credential ownership is a moving target – no one knows how many people are walking around with valid duplicates of your original credentials. Breaches like Equifax have compromised more records. For example to get a birth certificate on line most states only require a credit card with a billing address that matches the mailing address.So the solution starts with the thesis that physical credentials are compromised, both document validation and ownership verification should be the standard, and the methods should be hard to implement at scale to de-motivate the fake ID industry.Katherine Warman Kern