November 2nd, 2013
Most people know I was married at one point. I took his last name, and when I went through the process of getting unmarried, I made a vow to myself that the hassle that comes with changing one names would be reserved after 5 years of marriage. If we were on stable ground and I wasn’t ready to bolt, I’d do it, because that’s exactly what it is: a hassle. Plus, my name is kind of nice. Soothing. Almost full of alliteration, plus my initials spell out “Be Right Back”, so if it was a big deal to my future Mr., I’d change it, but if not, I’d probably just go about for a while, and slowly make the switch.
Yesterday, I went to my usual Early Voting Spot. Now, I should warn you here and now that when I usually go to vote for such innocuous things like Primary Elections and I say I’m a Democrat, there’s a look of surprise and almost shame. I shock the blue haired old ladies, because surely they didn’t hear right… surely there’s not a *whispers* Democrat *unwhispers* in their presence. And surely she’s not attempting to *whispers* vote *unwhispers* in their early voting location.
I took my United States Passport, for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is a U.S. Passport is more a legally defined form of Identification than a Texas Driver’s License. I wanted to make sure that if I was turned away, I had all forms of identification available to me as I stood in the parking lot calling an attorney and the ACLU and the Harris County’s Stan Stanart, because if I don’t need identification to become a deputy voter registrar, why do I need one to vote? But, I digress… and shouldn’t give Stan Stanart or any other Republican Tea Party crazy Texan any ideas on how to further disenfranchise me, what with losing Constitutional Rights enough as it is this week.
So, when I got to the table, where I’m to hand over identification, I handed over my Passport AND my Voter’s Registration Card. Which, if they want us to have Voting ID, why do they not just request those of us that have a Voter Registration Card come down for new Voter Registration Cards to their local county to have Voter Registration Cards made with Photos? Surely, this would be the most common sense way to handle all of the problems we seem to be having. That way, names could be corrected on the spot.
Anyhow, as I handed the two documents to the woman, my Passport more than applicable since it expires in 2017, she asked, “You don’t have a Texas Driver’s License?” I was obtuse. ”I’m handing you a United States Passport, one of the seven forms of acceptable identification.”
"Yes, I know it’s an acceptable form of identification, but…." I was glaring at her and looking at the packet which clearly lays out what forms of ID are acceptable, only their packets conveniently have the Texas Department of Public Safety documents listed on the front page and "preferable" to the lesser United States form of identification. "…It would just be easier if you have a Texas Driver’s License."
At which point, I was probably supposed to say, “OH! Well, if it will make things easier for you, let me just roll out the red carpet while my right to vote is being held up by a law that will likely be constitutionally challenged because it greatly discriminates against minorities and women. A law that my sister is fearing complications of voting where she’s voted the last 20 years because, she FINALLY looked at her Voter Registration Card and noticed that her middle name and not her maiden name is listed, though I warned her about this in August.”
I didn’t say it. I didn’t bat an eye, when I further persisted, “But this is a United States Passport, it’s BETTER for verifying my identity than my Texas Driver’s License… and one of the seven forms of acceptable identification.”
The woman was squirming, because, I know the law and it’s kind of obvious I know the law… ”Oh, well, it will just take longer to find you…” She said in that sweet southern way that’s supposed to imply f__k you and in a tone that meant I was supposed to answer with, “well, if it’s going to take longer than it already has to just argue with you over the fact that I’ve produced LEGALLY accepted identification to vote by all means, let me reconsider and give you what you want.” I just glared at her. I can play that backhanded sweet game, too, I just choose to be blunt and not catty. You know where you stand with me.
She said, “Well… there’s a problem, because your Passport lists your middle name as R__________________ and you’re listed on the voter file under just “R”.
I’m rolling my eyes at this point. Mind you, all of this is under my maiden name. My legal name, before any of it was changed, the name that was on my final Birth Certificate issued by the State of Texas and Harris County. There is no issue here with a former married name or a former maiden name, there is simply a problem with the fact that on one form of identification, my middle name is completely spelled out whereas on another, my middle name is just initialed.
"Yes. The "R" stands for R______________."
"Oh. And where do you iive? Because there’s two addresses listed for you." So, at this point, she’s blatantly looking for a reason to deny me the right to vote and especially at that location, because the other address is in Fort Bend and that house was sold this year.
"I live at the address on the voter registration given to you." And then spelled it out.
"OH. Okay then."
I finally got to go sign my name and THEN had to initial an affidavit that there were problems with my name on the Voter File and that I really was the person on the United States Passport AND the Voter Registration Card.
And THEN, I got to vote.
But, all along the way, I was pressured to do things the easy way… because that would make the process simpler. At this point, I encourage you to make this process harder. Any time you have other documentation than would make the job of the polling location easier, you bring the documentation that makes them have to work. I don’t want this process to be easier on the election workers. I want them to complain about it. I want them to hate it. I want them to say how much easier it was when we just had Voter Registration cards, before we were trying to disenfranchise large portions of the voting population and before we were made to feel like we should made the jobs of those people that are doing everything they can to prevent us from exercising our Constitutional Right to vote. I want people to get upset, antsy, agitated. How dare this Election Worker question me 3 times about the form of identification I provided to her. THREE TIMES? THREE TIMES when you’re handed documentation that will allow me to cross the border into a foreign country, documentation that far surpasses the Texas Driver’s License. And she had the audacity to be rude to me, to look for reasons to prevent me from voting. All because I made her job harder for her, and all because there is a law that affects me and my rights and affects the rights of many of those in this state.
….and that lady should be grateful that my Mom wasn’t there, because as much as I was glaring, my Mom would have been spitting nails and becoming extremely argumentative. And, I was willing to go to create a disturbance and go to jail, had I not been allowed to vote, because the call to my parents would have been one of the easiest ones I’ve ever had to make. Bail money because I was not allowed to vote? Would have been there before I could be processed.
Oh, but the icing on the cake? Was the Tea Party Republican couple in front of me insisting that they ALWAYS had to show ID to vote. The elderly black gentleman that was directing voters and is one of the few kind faces I see at my voting location, tried to explain it, and then just stopped, because there was no point. But the look of pain on his face told the story.