Down in Texas, difficulty renewing driver’s license

OlympiaJuly 27, 2013 

Last month, the Supreme Court gutted portions of the Voting Rights Act that required certain states to secure federal approval before imposing laws to restrict voting. The one-vote majority opinion alleged that federal oversight was no longer needed to protect access for persons of color in the designated, primarily southern states.

This week, my nephew, who is of Native American and Caucasian heritage, tried to renew his driver’s license in Texas, an exercise he has easily done there twice before. Born and raised in Washington, my nephew served in the Army, then moved to Texas to establish a family and career 16 years ago. But when he got to the license bureau in Houston on Tuesday, the clerk refused to renew his license because “you are not a citizen.” He demanded my nephew’s original birth certificate, even though my nephew had a copy of the original and a valid license. The original certificate is kept in an Oregon bank.

To satisfy Texas restrictions, my sister had to access the original and ship it to Houston. Fortunately, she and her son could meet the new requirements. Others might not as easily provide the necessary proof that was apparently not required until after the Supremes vetoed voting protections, an act that enabled Texas to impose new voter ID requirements two hours later.

Now we just have to hope Texas bureaucrats grant my nephew his license, which I’ll bet is also required to vote there. Just a guess.

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