Proof, please, Mr. Riva

On December 3, The Beat published a number of articles by Peter Riva, who writes the Beat column, View From The Edge. In the one titled, “Lies Pretending To Be Proof,” he wrote:

“American citizens all have a right to vote. No, not everybody does. With the cost of proof of identity running at $300 (original birth certificate or a $600 Citizenship Certificate proving you’re American – note in some states neither a US passport nor a driver’s license is accepted) – many poor or paperless people can’t register to vote. And the more poor or unpapered people are, the more likely the more conservative candidates will win.”

This would be an outrageous situation wherever it exists, but damned if I could find any proof that it exists anywhere. The most recent article I could find on the cost of voter ID was an October 8, 2014, article in The Atlantic, “Here’s How Much It Costs to Vote in States With Voter ID Laws,” which cited a just-released Government Accountability Office study, one that was reissued February 27, 2015.

The GAO study looked at the 17 states that required government-issued IDs at the polls, a driver’s license being the most common form of government-issued ID. The maximum cost to obtain a driver’s license was $58.50. Sixteen of the 17 states offered a free alternative to a driver’s license, or any other required form of ID.

I didn’t go to the trouble of determining if the $58.50 state was the one not offering a freebie. The Atlantic article stated that even in the free states it wasn’t really free since some applicants had to go to the trouble of getting a birth certificate, which “can cost as much as $25.”

Where, Mr. Riva, is “the cost of proof of identity running at $300,” and what can we do to correct this unacceptable situation?

The city of Albuquerque has required photo-ID to vote since 2005. Is Albuquerque one of those $300 places, Mr. Riva? If so, count me in at the Roundhouse rally protesting this manifest injustice.

From personal experience, I can attest that there is one form of personal identification that is way too expensive in New Mexico, and that is a concealed carry permit, a.k.a. Concealed Handgun License. The state charges a fee of $100 and requires applicants take a course in handgun safety, which can cost up to $100, plus pass a background check.

The background check requires a state-issued birth certificate. If you have a birth certificate issued by the hospital in which you were born, that is not good enough. I found this out the hard way when my hospital-issued birth certificate was returned to me.

The nice lady in Santa Fe said she would love to have me come to her office, take off my sock and prop my naked foot on her desk so she could check my footprint against the one on the hospital form. She would even bring a magnifying glass, but alas, that still wouldn’t be good enough. I had to get a copy of my official birth certificate from my state of birth, Missouri, which took a couple of weeks and cost me $15.

The whole rigmarole cost my wife and me over $300. In a growing number of states, if you can pass the background check when you buy a gun that is good enough to carry it concealed, no permit needed, no payment to state bureaucrats. Vermont has been this way for decades, Arizona as of last year. Will New Mexico ever follow suit?

When there’s ice in Hell.

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