Below is a letter I e-mailed recently to Ohio General Assembly Senator Keith Faber (12th Senate District) and later modified slightly and sent to Representative John Adams (78th House District). Let's see if either legislator acknowledges it.
Dear Sen. Faber,
I called your Celina office a few days ago and relayed the points below to your staffer there (I believe his name was Joe[?]), and he advised me to send you an e-mail detailing my concerns.
Two Fridays ago, my wife and I went to the local Bureau of Motor Vehicles office here in Lima to get new licenses. We had just moved earlier in the week and wanted to get that done promptly.
Much to our surprise, we were turned away because we lacked proof we reside at our new address. The employee at the BMV was very cordial and let us know this was a relatively new development in Ohio within the last year and the new stipulations require we furnish a piece of official mail with our names and new address such as a bank statement or utility bill.
This is the part that puzzles us: historically, one’s driver’s license or state ID serves as proof of residency for the above functions in society. Equally perplexing is the fact our recently inked lease for the duplex we’re renting is not on the list of acceptable proof of residency.
Now begins our catch-22: our bank will not change the address for our checking account until we are able to furnish new IDs with that update. To reiterate the irony, we need an item such as a mailed bank statement with our new address on it to prove we have moved into our new home and get our new licenses but our bank requires new licenses before it will enter our new address into our account information.
So far, this merely is the inconvenience side of the issue. Even more important to consider are the unintended consequences of the new BMV policy.
Before going any further, I would like to state I get why this was implemented. First, I know Ohio has a growing illegal alien problem that is taxing the state’s resources and I can see how this would be a potentially effective means of combating it. Also, it is easy to recognize the policy is meant to be a tool for thwarting voter fraud.
But, do those two efforts outweigh the predicament in which Ohio residents – who are disabled or caught-up in the severely adverse effects of the recession – are being placed?
My wife is disabled. Simply getting to the BMV and waiting in line for a new license is very physically taxing on her. Still, her situation does not present the obstacles to personal mobility faced by many disabled and elderly Ohioans – especially those dependent upon transportation assistance.
On another personal note, I am reminded of our experience when I was laid-off from my job in February 2009 at the peak of the current recession. Without employment, we could no longer afford the rent at our residence at the time and had to move-in with my wife’s family. Since all the bills there were in their names we had no means of proving we lived at that address. Had the new BMV policy been in place then, we would have spent months waiting for the ability to update our address with the state of Ohio.
When you couple those two situations (economically displaced residents and the transportation limitations of the elderly and disabled) with the fact state law requires residents to update our addresses within 30 days of moving before incurring a penalty it becomes clear many of us will invariably be caught between a rock and a hard place with little or no means to resolve this dilemma.
I do not know if the BMV policy was enacted via legislation or was set through the internal bureaucracy of the BMV or Ohio Department of Public Safety. If it was passed as a new law, my request would be to please consider my concerns above and quickly pursue a repeal of it out of consideration of the unintended consequences it is creating for so many Ohioans. If this policy was established internally, it is my hope you and other lawmakers in the General Assembly would lobby Governor Kasich’s office to issue a directive to ODPS Director Kyle Dupler and BMV Registrar Mike Rankin to reverse this harmful policy.
Thank you for your time and consideration and Happy Easter.