Tying up Democrats in Red Tape

One of the most maddening Republican political strategies these days is trying to increase the difficulty of voting.  If you make voter registration more difficult or require picture IDs, for example, some people won't make it over the hurdle.  Those who fail tend to have lower socio-economic-status and more often vote Democratic.  The argument on the other side is that it's not difficult meeting a few more bureaucratic conditions, and it's the least we should do to prevent (the non-existent problem of) voter fraud.

Dealing with bureaucracy not difficult?  I've had a bureaucratic problem for the last couple of months that shows otherwise.  I have attempted what you might have thought would be an easy feat--obtaining learner's permits for my 15-year-old twins.  And after over two months of trying I have failed!

Attempt #1.  The saga began in August, when they completed a driver's ed class.  We went to the DMV office in Plano, Texas, but made a quick retreat when we saw there was (literally) a three hour line.  No big deal we thought, especially because the food at a Chinese restaurant on the way home was damned good.

Learner's permits scored: 0
Food scored: wonton soup, fried rice

Attempt #2. Next we went to a different DMV, racing to get there between school closing time (4:30) and office closing time (5:00).  We got there at 4:59, there was no line, and we were nearly euphoric. Sadly, it turned out that some DMV's are driver's license offices and some are not. OK, my fault.  At the nick of time I recalled that Starbucks had been advertising pumpkin lattes.  No. Big. Deal.

Learner's permis scored: 0
Food scored: pumpkin lattes, pumpkin bread

Attempt #3. Next we located a driver's license office 15 miles away, but rumored to have short lines. We rescheduled my daughter's violin lesson and raced to the office on a Tuesday night, when the office was open late..  It seemed like victory was at hand when we arrived over an hour before closing time.  We had a thick pile of documents--birth certificates, passports, utility bills, report cards -- everything listed as a requirement on the Texas driver's license website. I was certain we'd walk out of the place with learner's permits, but .... no. It turns out that the Driver's Ed instructor neglected to tell my kids that a report card can serve as proof of school attendance in the summer, but not in the fall.  Ours is not to reason why ... we needed to obtain "VOEs" from school.  All was not a dead loss. We stopped for staples like Halloween candy and milk on the way home.

Learner's permits scored: 0
Food scored: Halloween candy, milk

Attempt #4. We rescheduled yet another violin lesson the following Tuesday. The kids dutifully went to the school office for the VOE's. These are simple print-outs that indicate that yes indeed, the kid goes to that school.  The bad news came in the form of a desperate text message from my daughter: the office couldn't possibly manage the task of printing out the form in less than 24 hours. OK, so her violin did need a new E-string.  At least something got accomplished.

Learner's permits scored: 0
E-string scored: 1

Attempt #5.  We went in next time like this was the raid on Entebbe, and we would prevail.  I honestly thought we would.  It turned out, however, that all of this was insufficient to prove that my children are residents of the great state of Texas: driver's license form, driving school form, VOE, utility bill with father's name and address, car insurance form with father's name and address, birth certificate with mother's and father's name, passport, social security card, my driver's license with same address as father, affidavit signed by me certifying these kids live in Texas.  Though the website says no such thing, a supervisor deemed that all this was insufficient, since my name wasn't on the utility bill or car insurance form. 

Learner's permits scored: 0
Food scored: 0

The saga continues.  Moral of the story: don't believe it when people say a little bureaucracy can't hurt.  If this had been a matter of getting a voter ID card, I wouldn't be voting on Tuesday.


ianbargain said...

If only they would leave their mom at home, they can get a drivers license, buy a used car on credit, vote and have a drink all on the same day. Though, they will probably come back home hungry.

Faust said...