Thursday, October 24, 2013

Why Is It Taking 5 Months (And Counting) To Renew My Drivers License In TX?

I despise conservatism and GOP run governments with a passion and have not minced words by calling them the political arm of whiteness and white supremacy.

And they keep proving my point.  See North Carolina, Michigan and Texas as  concrete examples of it 

The crap I'm dealing with as a girl like us to switch my driver's license from the Kentucky one I had to a Texas one is only adding to my deep dislike of the Republican Party and their jacked up policies.

When I moved to Kentucky from Texas in 2001, it was a simple, hassle free process to swap out my driver's license even though my Texas one had expired at the time.  I filled out the application, paid the then $8 fee, took and passed the written test, took my photo and walked out of the drivers license facility with my new Kentucky drivers license in my possession.    

While I was a Texan in exile our GOP controlled state legislature for political reasons made it harder to get a TDL in preparation for implementing their 'Voter ID' suppression scheme during the 2011 legislative session.  You have to prove US citizenship and Texas residency at a gatekeeper desk upon arrival in the Texas Department of Public Safety (our state troopers) license megacenter facility before the DPS employees even give you the application for the Texas driver's license and call your queue number to start the process.

The DPS in 2011 began closing many of the urban TDL offices, including the ones on Bissonnet and Dover streets that I'd gone to when I lived here in the 80's and 90's and renewed my licenses from 1980-2001 in the name of addressing the long wait times.  The DPS created Drivers License Mega Centers that interestingly enough here in Houston are all outside Loop 610 and are at least an hour bus ride away from many non-white inner city neighborhoods and closer to the surrounding GOP voting 'burbs.
So the day after my May birthday, since my license was expiring in four weeks, I roll out to the closest DPS megacenter to me near Hobby Airport at 7 AM.  I'm one of the first five people through the door when it opens at 8 AM 

While I was a Texan in exile they also changed the style of birth certificate they will accept as proof of US citizenship and I find out to my horror at the gatekeeper desk the one I've been using since they issued it in 1962 is no longer valid and I have to get a new certified one. I immediately leave from the Winkler DPS megacenter location in SE Houston to go to the City of Houston Bureau of Vital Statistics building by Reliant Stadium because I'm trying to get it renewed before an upcoming family trip.

I get to the City of Houston Vital Statistics building before noon where they issue birth and death certificates on N. Stadium Dr., wait 20 minutes, get to the window and now discover that since the name on my Kentucky drivers license and the name on my birth certificate don't match (which I already knew) they can't issue the conservative approved certified birth certificate to me.  I now have to file the 2001 name change I did in Kentucky in Austin with the state Vital Statistics Unit before they will issue the new certified birth certificate. I also have to get the application form notarized before I can send it and my paperwork off to Austin.

So frustrated as hell me goes back to the house, gets home about 1:30 PM and fortunately find a notary public a few blocks up MLK.  I pay her fee ($10) and then head to the post office a few blocks from that location to mail the forms off.  In my haste to get it to Austin as quickly as possible ($10 express mail) I realize to my horror I forgot to get the money order to pay the $37 filing and copy fee for the new conservative approved certified birth certificate. 

I call Austin to find out what I can do to get the process started, which is nothing until they either get the money order from me or wait until they receive and send the paperwork back to the house for me because it doesn't have the money order in it.   In the meantime I can't get the license exchange process started with the DPS until I receive the new certified birth certificate copy and my Kentucky DL expires on June 4.  

That date comes and goes, which means I now have to take the driving AND written test over, which is what I was trying to avoid in the first place. I could have renewed the Kentucky DL, but since I now live 1000 miles from Louisville and Kentucky requires an in person visit to a drivers license facility there for a new photo, that option is dead to me. 

It's the middle of June before I get the papers I originally sent to Austin without the critical money order back. I immediately head to my friendly neighborhood post office, purchase and stick my money order in the envelope, double and triple check to make certain every necessary document is in there, pay postage ($5), make copies of everything and wait.

The word in late June that the Supreme Court eviscerated Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act and Texas AG Greg Abbot's (R)  immediate implementation of the voter suppression law has now heightened the urgency of me getting this license renewal done.   In the meantime I'm still waiting through the month of July and early August for word my resent paperwork has been received in Austin.

Now I have another reason pop up that adds even more urgency to expeditiously deal with my license renewal situation besides the upcoming Houston city election.  I get the invitation from Kortney to come to Oakland for Trans" H4CK, which means I have to now fly to the Left Coast from Houston with an expired photo ID and won't know until the day I get to the airport how TSA security will react. 
At this point, I'm so pissed off about this situation I contact my state Rep. Garnet Coleman's office since I still haven't heard jack from the peeps in Austin.  And yeah, my computer having to be put in the shop didn't help my stress level either.  

I make what turn out to be two in person visits to Rep. Coleman's office on Almeda Rd in which his staffer Greg was a major help to me getting to the bottom of what was taking so long to process my certified birth certificate.   The state is claiming I never sent the money order but I have the post office receipts and a pile of paperwork that say otherwise.

Meanwhile it's now September.  I take my trip to Oakland for Trans" H4CK and I bring my current voter's registration card with me to prove my Houston residency in case I have problems either here or in Oakland with TSA security and it's a good thing I did.   I had no problem on the HOU-OAK leg going out there but did coming back through TSA security at the Oakland airport.  I had to show the voter registration card and explain my situation concerning the expired photo ID before the TSA agent was satisfied enough to let me through after undergoing a pat down search.     

Get back home from Oakland, have letter waiting for me and get phone call from Vital Statistics in Austin confirming what I knew concerning the money order, and assurances the name change was filed and new conservative approved certified birth certificate is being processed.

Don't receive it until last week and spend most of Monday morning at the DPS office finally getting the opportunity to fill out the Texas DL application, shelling out license fee ($25), taking photo, and passing written test.   But I now have to come back to the Winkler DPS location (since it is the closest to my house) to take a road test and pass it before I can receive my new Texas license.   And I have until mid January 2014 to set the date up and pass it or else I have to start the process all over again. 

So when is the first open date they have at that location to take the road test?   On November 5, Election Day.

(credit: Texas Dept. of Public Safety) Since the SCOTUS frakked with Section 4 of the VRA and Greg Abbott instituted the Voter Suppression law two hours after their 5-4 ruling  this is one of the ripple effects of it. 
The unacceptably long holdup in renewing my drivers license has cost me time, money and pissed me off.
It has also added additional hurdles I've had to deal with that are potentially messing with my ability to participate in this mayoral election, which was the intent of this bovine feces voter suppression law in the first place. 
And yeah, I'm not a happy camper it has taken me this long just to get my Texas driver's license and it's only increasing my determination that the GOP be ejected from power in my birth state.

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