758,000 Pennsylvanians lack the ID required to vote, according to an article in the July 5th Morning Call. Today I took one of those 758,000 to get his ID. It did not go well.
Paul and I arrived at the Lehighton PennDot license center on on Route 443 at 1:15 p.m. My friend took a number from the dispenser. It was number 20. The person being served was number 59. We had to go up to #100, then start at #1.
The room was full of bored and irritated people, including crying children. None of the seats had arms, so the elderly who had trouble getting out of their seats had to be helped. The elderly man two seats over from me only had cash, so the guy with the pierced lip next to me explained to him that he would have to go to the Rite-Aid to get a money order. The DMV does not accept cash--only checks or money orders. The guy with the pierced lip already had his money order.
I had told my friend to bring a book, and I had mine, but time still drags. The guy with the pierced lip was number 77. Quite some time after he was called I saw him in the line to get his picture. I went up to him and asked him why he was still there. He told me that his money order was $1.50 short, so he had to go back to Rite-Aid for another, which cost $2.00.
Incidentally, the crowd in that waiting room was of all genders, races, and classes, but we were united in our disgust at the way Pennsylvania treats its citizens who need DMV documents or help. Talk about solidarity.
At 2:45 my friend was called. He had his library card, two utility bills in his name, and his original birth certificate provided by the Palmerton Hospital, which his mother had given him. Not good enough. To get an ID card, you need a birth certificate with a raised seal. You need to send for that. It takes up to six weeks. I went up and asked the clerk why this wasn’t posted. It was, in a rack of documents on the wall as you came in. Not exactly easy to find.
We then went to Representative Heffley’s office in Lehighton to apply for a birth certificate with a raised seal. I spoke to Rep. Heffley and expressed, in what I hope was a civil manner, just what I thought of this process, which he had voted for.
We filled out a form to get a birth certificate (which cost $10, and they don’t accept cash, so I have to go back on Monday with a check), and that will come in about six weeks. Then we have to go back to the DMV, wait again, and, if Paul is approved, wait in another line for a photo.
Paul has voted for years. He is not a criminal. He is not pulling a fast one. All he wants to do is vote. I am willing to put in another day driving him to the DMV, but I can tell you, this: anyone who says this is free, or this is easy, or this is about preventing fraud is a liar.