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I’m a registered voter in Pennsylvania, one of the numerous states whose Republican Governors have proposed laws to require voters to present “State Approved Identification” in order to cast a vote in upcoming elections. On the surface, these sound like common sense laws. In reality, they are bureaucratic nightmares. These laws are solutions to problems that do not exist. But that’s not what this post is about.
During last November’s general election, the courts had put a stay on Pennsylvania’s new Voter ID law. They found that there wasn’t enough time to provide proper ID to the thousands of Pennsylvanians who didn’t have it. The lines at the PA DMV were so long that people were being turned away. It was decided that voters would be asked for ID, but it would not be required to vote. Poll workers were also instructed to ensure that each voter’s ID correctly matched what was on record, and to advise the voter to rectify it before the next election. There were leaflets and everything.
I didn’t think this would be an issue for me. I had my ID. So, with ego properly inflated, I confidently marched up to polling place and proudly presented my driver’s license.
The woman behind the table carefully examined my driver’s license, expelled a sigh, and looked up into my smiling face. “It appears we have a problem,” she said. “The way your name is printed on your driver’s license does not match the way it is printed on our records.”
Apparently, my middle name is spelled out on my driver’s license, but my voter’s registration shows only an initial. My registration also shows a “Sr” after my name, as in Frank Senior. This is ostensibly a problem because I don’t have a son named Frank Jr..
NOTE: Other than my address, the information on my voter’s registration has not changed in almost three decades.
After voting, I thanked the nice woman and promised I would fill out a new registration form with the correct information. All was well with the world.
Being the procrastinator that I am, I filled out the new registration form at the end of March. There were a myriad of reasons why I waited. There always are. Three weeks later my new voter’s registration arrived by mail.
The new registration is printed exactly the same as my old one, with the exact same errors. What gives? How difficult is it to copy information from a piece of paper? How hard is it to check the information found on my driver’s license, and enter it into a database? Wasn’t that the reason I was asked to provide them with my license number?
I contacted the Election Commission and spoke to a very patient gentleman who was as puzzled as I was. He accessed my driver’s license information to verify my identity. He looked at a scanned image of my new application, which had the correct information. and couldn’t understand why the records hadn’t been updated. After a few questions, I was told that my new registration should arrive within a week.
It took almost four weeks for the new voter registration to arrive, just in time for Pennsylvania’s Primary Election. This time, my last name was altered.
I have an Italian last name with a “De” prefix, as in DeNiro, DeLuca, or DeAngelo. Pennsylvania driver’s licenses use all capital letters, and the De is not separated from the rest of the surname. On the new voter’s registration however, the prefix IS separated. You wouldn’t think this was an issue. Apparently, the poll workers thought it was enough of an issue that it needed to be addressed. I was told that I could be turned away because of that simple technicality. REALLY??
Now I have to contact the Election Commission AGAIN, and walk them through the correct spelling of my name.
Does anyone else see the problem, here?
I vote every election. I take it very seriously. It’s about more than just selecting a new Mayor, Judge, Senator, or President. There are ballot questions and referendums. The voting booth is one of the few places in which my opinion matters. In the words of “because campaigns have been drilling it into our heads reasons why we should or should not vote for a particular candidate. But I will be voting because voting = power, and I cannot sit back while decisions are made around/about me, and I have no input.”I don’t vote
I also don’t want some inattentive paper pusher’s mistake to prevent me from casting my vote.
How can they ask for proper ID if they’re not going to ensure that the information they record is correct? Why must I jump through hoops if a bureaucrat can’t get it right?
If we can’t ensure that everyone can easily obtain the proper ID required to cast a vote, then we need to stand down on aggressive laws designed to make it virtually impossible to engage in our Federal Voting Right.
Speaking of constitutional rights…
I threw that last thought in there as an expression of my angst.
Seriously though… If anyone, regardless of criminal background, can order an assault weapon online without proper identification, why should my middle initial, or the prefix of my ethnic surname cause so much trouble at the polling place? #smh
PS: The point of this rant is simple. I’m surviving on minimal resources. If I’m having trouble meeting the requirements for “State Approved Identification”, what about the people who don’t even have what I have?
About a hundred years ago, I was tagged by kipperny to tell you all “Ten Things About Me.” I set the idea aside, and did what I usually do, put it off until I had time. Procrastination should be my middle name.
Part of my resistance had to do with my desire to hold onto as much privacy as possible. We live in a world where everyone is so desperate to divulge the minutiae of their daily lives. In some cases, when a person is sharing experiences that may be helpful to others, it’s a good thing. But generally, I like to keep much of my personal life private.
Does anyone really care?
I must admit the idea of sharing some personal details is attractive. Who doesn’t want their fifteen minutes of fame? Besides, kipperny asked me to do it, so if the following bores you to sleep, blame her. ;)
So, to make a long story short …too late …here is a little bit about me.
I studied communications in school. My goal was to work as a video editor for a major television network. Times were tough. I couldn’t afford to further my education beyond technical school. But I made a decent living as an A/V Technician.
It was the 1980s. I was that guy at conventions and hotels with a spool of cable slung over my shoulder pushing a cart loaded with equipment through crowded halls. My specialty was assembling slide shows with twelve or more slide projectors. This was before Powerpoint. Everything was manual. It took hours, sometimes days to set up and coordinate the projectors, lenses, dimmers, and cables. God help you if you dropped the client’s slide tray.
My career as an A/V Tech ended as everything went digital. I got a summer job as a bouncer/door man, and eventually became a bartender at a local bar. What started out as a “temporary” summer job lasted two decades. Interestingly enough, the skills I learned as an A/V Tech served me well at the bar. I used the same digital technology that replaced my career field to create in-house video entertainment and promotions. Unfortunately, when the economy tanked, so did the bar.
I do Twitter, Tumblr, and am experimenting with Wordpress, but I resist facebook. I don’t feel the need to disclose so much of my private life. This post is probably the most I’ve revealed since adopting the ADignorantium persona.
Because I chose an anonymous identity, I try to keep certain standards for myself. Abuse isn’t my style. It’s too easy to hide behind anonymity. My rants are my opinion. If I write anything other than opinion, I provide a source.
I read and follow opinions that I don’t always agree with. I stand by my opinions, but they are not set in stone. From time to time someone will shed light on an issue and I will see something new. This is called growth. Above all, I try to be consistent.
If I say something that offends you, let me know. But be prepared to explain why it offends you. Understand too, that it’s difficult to gauge tone from a printed page. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment if you don’t have the whole story. Let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt.
I like humor, television, movies, music, reading, Politics, and a good Twitter HashTag game. …and I hope for world peace some day. ;p
I received another email today from the Committee of Seventy…
I don’t know where you live, but wanted to reassure you that all polling places will be open in Philadelphia County.
Voters who have been displaced because of the storm are being told to vote by provisional ballot, which is a paper ballot that looks the same as a ballot inside the voting machines. County election officials are promising that they will be counted. Voters can go to their county Boards of Elections to pick them up. If you know of anyone who is in this situation, please let me know. The Committee of Seventy is happy to help make sure all PA voters are able to vote.
If anyone has any questions or problems, they can call our 1-866-687-8683 Election Protection Hotline.
Committee of Seventy
Vice President and Policy Director
Eight Penn Center, 1628 JFK Boulevard Suite 1002 Philadelphia, PA 19103
In Pennsylvania, we are being told to prepare for the impending storm. But what about After the storm? What if electricity is out for a week or more?
If the power goes out during Hurricane Sandy, and we are without electricity for a week or more, will other provisions be made so that we can vote?
This is not just an issue for Pennsylvania. Every state in the path of the hurricane has the potential to be affected.
How are we to ensure our votes are counted if there is no electricity on November 6th?
I’ve contacted several news outlets, but have not been able to find an answer.
All my local government offices are closed until Monday. I’ll be contacting them first thing Monday morning.
I encourage others to do the same.
Rest In Peace Arlen. I will truly miss you.
Senator Specter was a decent politician and a really good man. He was one of those rare politicians who actually listened to his constituents. He didn’t tow the party line, which is why this Liberal Democrat voted for him in every race.
But this isn’t about politics. This is about the loss of a man who followed his calling and did what he thought was right, not necessarily what was popular.
RIP Mr. Specter. Best wishes to his family.
From Arlen Specter Dead: Former Senator Dies From Complications Of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma -> http://huff.to/QlSGtj