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Inane obstacles at the DMV

Aug 13, 2017 By Randy Tucker, Staff Writer

In our zeal to protect ourselves from threats that don't exist, we've crossed the threshold from good sense to nonsense.

We the people... one man one vote (changed to person in 1920)... majority rule, but minority rights must be respected...

Sound familiar?They are just a few of the basic principles that once separated the United States from other, less-free nations.

Sadly, fewer of our basic tenets remain true in the modern era.

Look at two simple examples that every adult has the chance to pursue: voting and getting a driver's license.

They may seem different issues but in modern America they have become intricately intertwined and are, in fact, one and the same in steps to limit democracy.

We have it easy in Wyoming. With one congressional district ours is simply a rectangle with an area of almost 100,000 miles. Anyone living within that elongated square (or a Virginian who is the daughter of a famous politician) is eligible to run for office as our representative.

That's not true in Texas, Florida, New York or any of the other states with multiple representatives.Gerrymandering has become an art in those states and has a richly corrupt and disingenuous history in America.

It's interesting to note that the founding fathers, those hallowed demigods of our early history where in fact just as devious as any of the clowns representing "us" in Washington today.

In 1788, before the constitution was even written, Patrick Henry led the anti-federalists in Virginia. Henry and his cohorts unsuccessfully tried to redraw the boundaries of Virginia's voting districts to keep James Madison out of the U.S. House of Representatives.

It didn't have a name in 1788 but a cartoonist with the Boston Gazette drew a picture of a salamander wrapping itself around Boston. The salamander resembled the newly created voting district that protected the incumbent, named Gerry, and became known as gerrymandering.

Gerrymandering is alive and well today. The party in power uses it to remain in power. It's simple. Just redraw the congressional district lines so your party is mostly likely to get 51 percent of the votes. That way, Republicans in Texas, who are in the minority, can remain in power, and elect all-white politicians while effectively eliminating an input from black or Hispanic communities.

The same holds true in California where districts are carefully laid out to isolate bastions of wealthy white people from holding a majority of the votes.T

he intrigue swings both ways and knows no political bounds, at least when it comes to gerrymandering.

In Wyoming and in other extremely conservative majority states, the process of eliminating representation comes at the driver's license office.

With Trump's fragile ego unable to handle losing the popular vote by 3 million votes, the efforts at your local driver's license office have followed the trend to eliminate "undesirable" voters.

Trickle-down economics is a myth, but trickle-down bureaucracy looks you right in the face every time you try to renew your driver's license.

The myth that there are millions of illegal voters in America would be funny if so many people didn't believe it was true. There is fraud in American voting, but it comes in limiting the voting rights of people through needless bureaucracy.

I have a first-hand case in point. Last week an 81-year old woman I know entered the Department of Motor Vehicles office in Riverton to renew her license.

She brought proof of residency (city utility bill), a 62-year-old marriage certificate, a Wyoming driver's license, a retired military photo ID, her Social Security card, and an original birth certificate produced by the United States Department of Commerce in 1935.

But she was denied a license for not having enough documentation.

She passed her first driver test in 1951 and again in 1955. She had licenses in Colorado, Louisiana and California before moving back to Fremont County in 1971.

Her unsuccessful attempt last week would have been the 12th time she renewed her license.

The all-powerful clerk determined that the U.S. Department of Commerce document was insufficient. It was sufficient for her to get married in New Mexico almost 62 years ago, to travel overseas and north of our border in Canada,but a handful of different documents suddenly was not enough to renew a Wyoming driver's license for the 12th time.

The Wyoming Department of Motor Vehicles, in its own regulations, states the following: "If you do nothave your current Wyomingdriver license to surrender at the time you renewit, you must present two otherforms of identification such as a certified birth certificate, valid U.S. passport, carregistration, W-2 form, etc."

Hmmm... the rules evidently don't apply everywhere.

Limiting access to the polls by limiting access to a driver's license is as old as our democracy. Jim Crow, poll taxes, it's nothing new. But it doesn't make it right. In our zeal to prove the inane and to protect ourselves from threats that don't exist, we've crossed the threshold of sensibility and entered a Brave New World, a world that really isn't new and has nothing to do with bravery.

Editor's note: Staff writer Randy Tucker is a retired public school educator.

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