Even understanding the reasons for all sorts of identification verification paperwork, not to mention invasive bodily searches just for trying to board a plane, doesn’t mean one has to like it.
Thus it was, filled with a certain amount of dread and sure a long ordeal not rewarded with University of Georgia football tickets was coming, that my wife and I set out for the Rome office of the Department of Driver Services on Martha Berry Highway. She had to renew her license and unfortunately at just the time when the state was imposing its new more-secure procedures for issuing what is the main “photo ID” demanded for most things. Since my future renewal was within the 150-days allowed to do it early ... well, might as well kill two government birds with one stone ... a kidney stone, probably.
Given reports from around the state about horrible, horrible lines and waits — four hours typically and up to seven hours — plus all sorts of chaos regarding what paperwork one had to bring along the worst was clearly to be expected.
Instead it was a dream process. Both of us were in and out in a combined total of less than 30 minutes – and that included filling out the (sigh!) bureaucratic forms required plus the vision test younger folks don’t have to take. Not only that but only two of the four counter positions were manned when we arrived.
Maybe the state process is overtaxed and busted, but Greater Rome was plainly not like the rest of Georgia ... on that day, at least.
ACCORDING TO employees there, longer lines and waits had been experienced ... probably will be again as this process unfolds. Eventually, everybody will have to show up there in person, with documents, for the renewal to get the gold-starred top-security license. This won’t actually be over until 2017 as licenses last for five years. After that, Georgians will be permitted to renew online once again.
No doubt the fact that we picked a rain-threatening Wednesday morning had something to do with our smooth experience. Tuesdays are supposed to be avoided, as the offices are closed on Monday, as are Saturdays which are the only available day to get this done for those with “regular hour” jobs.
Plus, all our paperwork ducks were in a row thanks to being highly organized ... well, my wife is.
Additionally, how many people after 60 years still carry their original, pristine Social Security card? I’ve got my draft registration card on my person as well – hey, it says right on it that you must carry it at all times “under penalty of law.” It’s best not to give the government any excuse to arrest you.
Here’s another tip, especially for women: If you’ve got a U.S. passport, show that in lieu of the birth certificate. It avoids the “name change” problem caused by marriage. Otherwise one has to also have all papers showing divorce, remarriage and so forth. In contemporary society, some ladies might have to take a filing cabinet with them to show how their name got to where it is now.
Also, regarding those two required “proof of residence” documents, what’s legal is far more extensive than most might imagine including ... your old current driver’s license. A full and lengthy list can be found at http://www.dds.ga.gov/drivers/index.aspx.
LET’S GRANT that this is the experience of two normal, everyday people regarding a law passed and applied by politicians and bureaucrats who are normal, everyday people. Indeed, one of the main problems when something governmental gets messed up is often due to normal, everyday officials not knowing or understanding there are many “exceptions to the rule” in our society. Many problems with the Voter ID that Georgia created are similar.
For example, some Americans of certain age have never had a birth certificate. How do they come up with one? As for that “address” thing, post-office boxes don’t count. It is more than itinerant farm workers that may use P.O. boxes. Lots of retirees live and roam in RVs full time. So do many other workers, such as oil/gas drillers. There may be other good reasons not to display a true address, such as an abusive ex-husband is hunting you.
There are other hitches that doubtless contribute something to long lines when encountered because they weren’t solved ahead of time.
Two other observations for those waiting to join this mandatory queue, one ludicrous and the other potentially dangerous.
The silly: On the paperwork one is supposed to list every other state where a driver’s license has been held, plus the name that was on it. OK, that is not too bad but they asked for the “number” on those licenses as well. Seriously? Leaving that long-forgotten “fact” out apparently isn’t a red flag, though.
AS FOR the dangerous: All that paperwork gets scanned, copied and dumped into a government computer somewhere. Some of it the authorities already possess ... birth certificates, for example. But when confirming “address” items such as bank account and credit-card statements are acceptable. The same government that constantly warns us not to give out such numbers but whose own databases are often hacked now wants them? Don’t think so.
Regarding those long lines encountered elsewhere, state politicians were quick to point out they were just obeying a federal mandate. True enough, but in a presidential campaign year the impression left is that the sitting president has inflicted yet another annoyance on the voting public. Don’t think so ... the Real ID Act was passed (by both parties) during the Bush administration.
As for the Georgia House speaker blaming a poorly prepared state agency for the long lines ... that’s the pot calling the kettle black. Poorly thought-out rules for implementation by elected officials, like knowing ahead of time how to deal with paperwork that never existed in the first place, plus past (and continuing) state budget cuts and manpower reductions have something to do with this as well.
All in all, though, it is unusual to have an unexpectedly pleasant encounter with government bureaucracy. Maybe it was just a lucky day, in which case buying a lottery ticket was in order. Nonetheless, the folks at the local DDS office are to be applauded (they weren’t even surly given what they’ve doubtless recently endured).
OR MAYBE it is just the often-observed general efficiency (but not perfection) of local Greater Rome governments rubbing off on related operations in the vicinity. Or Northwest Georgians receiving better instruction/information from their media sources than elsewhere.
In any case, government around here doesn’t appear to be broken and backfiring. Those more often seem to be the state-level and federal operations.
Something to think about during the hopefully brief time you also find yourself in such a line.