Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Quest for a photo ID

My 18-year-old grandson needed a photo ID. Here's what it took to get one.  (And why requiring a photo ID to vote is a bad idea.)

I first drove him to the DMV office, where he learned that his hospital birth certificate was not sufficient. He needed a certified one from the county courthouse. And needed a Social Security card. He knew his number, but the card was lost, probably still with his now-absent mother. (Last time we  heard, she was somewhere in Duluth.)

Luckily he was born right here in Pine County, so we drove to the courthouse to get the birth certificate. Which he could not sign for because he doesn't have a photo ID.  I could not sign for it because I am not his biological grandfather. So his Dad had to go there a couple days later to get it.

Now for the Social Security card. For that, he had to  prove his identity.  I called their office and sat on hold for an hour. Really. Eventually I got a real live human on the line, and we went down the list of documents they would accept to get a replacement card. Most were things he did not have, but they said he could use a medical record from the doctor. So, next day, we went to the clinic and got that. He filled out the application and mailed it in.  A week later he got his new card. Which was a blessing, because the website warned that it could take a month or more.

Now for proof of residence. He needed two things that proved he lived there.  Of course, being an 18 year old kid who lives with his Dad, he doesn't have utility bills, rent receipts, property tax docs, a mortgage, etc.  But he did have some pieces of mail sent to him at that address, including the envelope from Social Security. 

Now armed with all this, we went back to DMV. Turns out he didn't need proof of residence for a regular ID, only for the higher security Real ID needed for boarding planes, etc. Since he won't be flying anywhere soon, for now he got the regular lD.  All this took us two months.  If he had been born out of state, it would have taken much longer to get the birth certificate. Which is why requiring a photo ID to vote can -- and often does -- end up preventing people from voting.  Not everyone can track down all these documents.