Some twenty plus years ago when I first passed my driving test in California the lady at DMV in San Jose pointed out that I hadn’t filled in the voter registration form that was part of the drivers license form. I explained to her that as I had (at the time) an L1 visa I wasn’t eligible to vote. She said something like “Oh OK” and processed the form so that I got my temporary drivers license. After that expired (temporary licenses last 3 months), I got another temp and then, shortly before that one expired the DMV gave me a permanent one. I think I told various friends and acquaintances that if I hadn’t been careful I could have been the other voter for Bob Dole in Santa Clara – ha ha ha.
In 2013 I returned to live in California under an H1B visa. To my surprise my former driving license records were still in the system and so I just needed to pass the multiple guess test to get a new drivers license. Even better said license showed up a week or two after I passed the test. When I took the test I was again asked about the voting thing, which I thought odd seeing as I had (yet again) showed my British Passport for the “proof of ID” bit of the process. But hey I guess despite the whole use the internet for appointments and send a real license in a decent period of time California still doesn’t have a “not a citizen” box to check on drivers license and car ownership forms – ha ha ha.
Then for a second time – this may be a record amongst holders of US visas – I left the country.
I recently (actually it was sent some time back and I just got it because um what part of “left the country” was unclear?) got a jury summons from the Superior Court of California. It was sent to the forwarding address that I set when I left the USA again and needed some place to handle those pesky details like checks for the security deposit on condos, car insurance before I sold the car etc. While it was a change of address , the helpful DMV person I spoke to on the phone told me the address would only apply to the car and not to me as regards driving license seeing as I was quitting the country.
Yet, despite that verbal assurance, and despite the fact that I have never ever claimed to be a US citizen, somehow the California DMV passed my name and (updated) address to whatever authority generates jury duty summonses.
Given that I’ve never been a citizen and that the jury form has non US citizenship as option one for disqualification you do kind of have to wonder why the various bits of the California state government decided that I ought to be a juror. Also you have to wonder whether they would check if you showed up with the jury duty paper work and didn’t say “I’m not a citizen”.
Which leads to the next obvious question. Could I have voted? I’m pretty sure that that in California I could have filled in the voter part of the drivers license form and no one would have pointed out those pesky details like using a British passport. In fact if I’d had even a modicum of cunning/sleaze I could have voted in every election since 1996 and something tells me that if I had that would have actually made a number of things easier for me.
Hey California I’m happy to vote in your elections if you admit to the sovereignty of Her Majesty Elizabeth II.
PS for extra fun there was a whole page about how to be a green ecofriendly citizen. Compare and contrast with the “oh whoops you aren’t eligible” questionnaire above.