It’s not like it used to be. In the past, we would go into the driver’s license place and simply renew our driver’s license or state identification. Now, you need all kinds of documents to prove who you are. If you are unfortunate enough not to have all the chain of documents needed, you are in deep trouble without any legal current identification. Here’s how it works:
Let’s say you have been lax and let your current ID expire or you just need to renew it. Let’s also say you need to order a “certified” copy of your birth certificate from Hawaii or any other state. Here is the problem. To apply for certified copies of birth, divorce, marriage or other documents, you must supply an application form that is signed by you and notarized. And, guess what you need to get anything notarized … a current state ID. In other words, you need current legal ID to get current legal ID. Naturally, that’s a Catch-22.
Whoever thought up this process was either monumentally incompetent or brilliantly devious and sadistic. Following on now, let’s say you have no current legal state ID and you continue on living as you always have. These are your ordinary activities that you will no longer be able to conduct without that current ID:
1. You cannot vote or register to vote in many precincts in Hawaii. The ID standards are not uniform precinct to precinct.
2. You cannot serve on a jury.
3. You cannot obtain a cell phone or change phone carriers.
4. You often cannot obtain any prescription medications at the pharmacy.
5. You cannot apply for any benefits to which you would otherwise be entitled: Social Security, unemployment, Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP and AFDC.
6. You cannot open or close a bank account.
7. You cannot write a check on your own bank account or make a large deposit.
8. If you redeem insurance or annuity type benefits, you cannot make that large deposit in your own bank account.
9. You cannot rent or sign a lease for a residence.
10. You cannot obtain a mortgage to purchase a home; or sign documents to sell the home.
11. You cannot sign any contract that requires a notary.
12. You cannot get a job because the INS form requires current ID.
13. If stopped or questioned by law enforcement, you cannot identify yourself.
My sister is a disabled senior citizen. She is competent and manages well her various activities and needs. But this lack of state ID has put her in serious jeopardy for functioning at any level and her calls to her politicians to help have yielded no solutions at all. One politician’s office suggested my sister cheat to get her ID. She also needs a chain of six different certified documents to obtain current Hawaii state identification at a cost of about $400, which she does not have.
This matter is not just about voting rights and ID. This is about a citizen thing being able to avail themselves of their ordinary right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. There is a fix here and politicians and the media need to address the problem. Uncorrected, this process disenfranchises and disappears a large number of U.S. citizens.
Karen Cobeen is a resident of Kamuela.