After observing firsthand my mother’s failed attempt to renew her driver’s license under Georgia’s new “real ID” statute, I want to share an outsider’s impression of the runaround she received.
Because the name on her 84-year-old birth certificate did not match her married name, the same name on her current license, her Social Security card, her Medicare card, my father’s death certificate, her property tax bill, her federal and state tax returns and her bank account, officials insisted that she must produce her 1948 marriage certificate to prove who she was under the new “real ID” requirements. A handy printout of the vital statistics offices of all the various states and the cost to obtain a “certified” marriage document was cheerfully provided, and she was told she could come back and wait in line again after she had the marriage certificate.
While clearly not required by the Georgia Department of Driver Services’ own printed explanation of the new requirements – they allow any of the documents she presented as sufficient name change proof “if a marriage certificate is not available” – the front-end staff demand it. Unlike most women who took their husbands’ names, my mother drives just about as often as she votes, but they all need drivers’ licenses to do both.
Whether simple ignorance or subtle policy is the motivation, the new “name change” requirements most certainly amount to a poll tax for women as misinterpreted by the staff at the Thomson DDS office.
Oh, by the way, don’t bother trying to call the state DDS administration office to complain. I couldn’t get through.