Mind you, this happened in Austin -- the liberal part of Texas! Seems pretty obvious that the official policy is to keep the wrong people from getting IDs, because this sure seems like overkill. Nothing about how to help her get the ID, just scaring the crap out of her and threatening her with jail over her drivers license -- which was only needed to prove she was who she said she was. (Yeah, she should have gotten a Texas license, but friends form several different states me the procedures regarding out-of-state licenses are almost Kafkaesque.)
Why, you'd almost think they didn't want this woman to vote!
[Lynne] Messinger, 62 and a musician, said she brought her birth certificate to a Texas’ Department of Public Safety (DPS) office in south Austin Thursday in an effort to get a voter ID. She needs one because Texas’s strict ID law doesn’t accept out-of-state driver’s licenses.
Messinger said she spoke to a clerk at the desk, and explained that she had a California driver’s license. She has houses in both California and Texas and goes back and forth between the two, but decided several years ago to switch her voting residency to Texas.
The clerk left for a few minutes, then told her to take a seat. At that point, Messinger said, a state trooper summoned her into his back office, saying he needed to speak to her. Once inside his office, Messinger said the trooper insisted on seeing all the documentation she had brought, and demanded to know where she lives and pays taxes. He even told her she could be jailed for driving with a California license.*
It is illegal to drive in Texas on another state’s driver’s license 90 days after moving into the state.
“It was like a Nazi interrogation about how I can't be driving with a California ID,” Messinger said. “I was completely intimidated and freaked out.”
The trooper denies threatening jail or arrest during the conversation, according to Summer Blackwell of the DPS. Blackwell said DPS was willing to reach out to Messinger to help her obtain a voter ID.
“I’m from New York originally, and talking to policemen was not like a big deal to me,” Messinger added. “This was scary as hell. There was nothing civil about the way he was talking to me.”
Messinger said she answered the trooper’s questions and eventually was allowed to leave. But by then she was so unnerved that she left without getting her ID, and now doesn’t plan to get one in time to vote.
“I’m well-traveled, I’m not easily intimidated,” she said. “This guy scared the hell out of me. I can just imagine what other people – a little housewife or a Latino or whatever walks in there and this happens to them …”
Adding insult to injury, Messinger said she’d been trying for over a year to get the documents she needed. She first went to a DPS office to get a voter ID last summer, but was turned away because she didn’t have a birth certificate. That led to a months-long process where she frequently spent hours uploading documents in an effort to get a birth certificate from New York, where she was born. Eventually she succeeded, only to be scared off at the DPS office.
Just to keep things in perspective: There are a lot of other people having trouble getting a Texas voter ID, too..