How Is This Not a Poll Tax?

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If a woman has to pay to get copies of her marriage certificates and/or divorce records in order to vote, as happened to Cora Beach, I'd like to know how that's not a poll tax.

It's bad enough that we've got to do the Tennessee Hokey Pokey — put your right foot in this line, put your left foot in that one — to get a picture ID in order to vote, but some folks have to pay to get the right paperwork to get that ID?

Here's Beach's story:

On her initial trip to a Davidson County driving center, Beach lacked a required birth certificate to prove citizenship. She quickly fixed that by having one sent from her native Selma, Ala.

But Beach was turned away again last week and a third time Tuesday — at separate driving centers — even though she displayed her birth certificate, apartment rental lease and Social Security, Medicaid and Davidson County voting cards.

Those documents more than met the state’s requirement of two documents to prove residency. But there’s one final document Beach must produce, and, so far, she hasn’t been able to: her two marriage licenses, including one from Toledo, Ohio.

And then get this bullshit spoken by Michael Hogan, the director of the Department of Safety’s Driver Service Division: "What happens is, particularly with women, whenever they marry, their legal name is now the name of their husband." If ever there were an argument for not changing your name when you get married, surely the state of Tennessee's willingness to refuse to let you vote because of it must be a good one.

But really, any time a public official acknowledges that a law is a bigger burden on some people — "particularly with women" for instance — they're admitting the law is discriminatory.

I remember when the intrusive government — Big Brother — was the bogeyman of the Right. The idea that the government would intrude on every part of your life was supposed to be so very terrible. And yet, here in Tennessee, when it comes to women, our conservative state legislators seems to think that women should have to justify everything we do to the state.

I've been jokingly talking about our propensity to pass laws that operate under the assumption that all women are lying bitchez, but here we are — the state's official position is to treat its female citizens as if we are liars until we can prove otherwise. It won't take our word that we are who we say we are. We have to submit our life history to the state in order to get access to the voting booth.

This isn't about preserving the integrity of the vote. This is about reminding Tennessee's citizens who's really the boss. And if you're a woman, it's definitely not you.

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