Every day we meet wonderful, hopeful people who need IDs for a lot more than voting. It is such an honor to get to know them! Check out some of our favorite videos to get to know more about our awesome voters!
Marvin is a wonderful, sweet gentleman who lives in a tiny boarding house in Atlanta. We met him this summer and we started working to get him an ID. But Marvin was born in a Jim Crow town that didn't give birth certificates to black babies. It's tough enough to get a birth certificate REPLACED, but when you never had one in the first place... that's a challenge.
So, we had to FOIA the Social Security Administration for something called a Numident Record. It costs $27 and it's basically a history of your Social Security life and in some states, for some forms of ID, if you are a certain age you can use it in place of a birth certificate.
As you can imagine, the SSA is not the fastest agency in the world. It took almost four months to get Marvin's ID. Our amazing volunteer Karen was on the phone with them every week trying to find out when they would mail the record. And Marvin was calling me every week because this ID means everything to him.
You see, Marvin is trapped in his home because in order to take wheelchair-accessible public transportation you need an ID to sign up. Seriously.
Not only that, but he is spending most of his income on rent for his very small room in the boarding house. He has an opportunity for better, less expensive housing but, you guessed it, he needs ID.
So Marvin called every week for three months and every week we had to say "We're so sorry Marvin, we're doing everything we can, we just have to keep waiting". It was terrible.
But then the SSA finally mailed the form. It was thrilling. Of course, then we had the problem of transportation. Like I said, he can't take public transportation. So we had to hire a private company to pick him up, wait while they were at the DMV, and take him home. It cost $130. There is no way Marvin would have been able to afford that on his own.
And then this morning, Karen took Marvin to the DMV and he got his ID!
It cost us $189.
When we went to Marvin's house this summer and told him that we were getting him an ID, he asked how much it would cost. We told him we would pay for everything and he started to cry. Because, like every single person we work with, he knew that he would never be able to afford an ID on his own.
This was one of the toughest cases we have had so far and it is exactly why I started Spread The Vote. Because voter ID is voter suppression. Because IDs are about a lot more than voting. Because we are changing lives every single day.
Ernest has been active in the Alexandria community for decades. He was a standout basketball player at T.C. Williams (think “Remember the Titans”) class of ‘75. He was a freshman in the period covered by the film, and knew all of the guys featured in the film. After high school he played basketball in South America. (He is quick to say he was no angel in the 80’s, but he had no run-ins with the law.) As a consequence of the high profile that his basketball fame afforded him, and his status as a native Alexandrian, he worked with youth in his community, including those in juvenile detention. More recently, he made a good living as a driver with Uber. He has been a self-described pillar of the community.
In January 2016, at the age of 58, he was arrested for robbing a bank—the same local bank that he and his family had done business with for decades. Strange, huh? He was appointed a public defender who did not put on a defense, so he fired him and got a second PD, who also refused to defend him. Then the judge appointed a law firm and told Ernest he could not fire them. This lawyer told him there was a 99.9% chance of conviction if he held out for a trial by jury. All circumstantial evidence, no line up, etc. It seems each of his lawyers was convinced of his guilt without even asking Ernest if he did it. 🤬 So he copped to an Alford Plea to avoid a long jail term, served his time and got out 2 weeks ago. Now he has to rebuild his life, starting with a job, starting with getting his birth certificate so that he can renew his CDL, both of which we helped with (yay STV!). He is so grateful. And spiritual. He believes in the importance of kindness, and how God has his hand in our lives. Now he is a convicted felon.
We helped Ernest get a birth certificate and an ID so he can get a job and start to rebuild his life. Every day people are hit by injustice and getting IDs is one way that we can help them rebuild their lives.
Mr Teah's Story
We met Mr. Teah at a shelter in Arlington, Virginia. He lost all of his documents from the complications of homelessness.
Mr. Teah has trouble walking but doesn’t have a wheelchair, so for the
election one of our volunteers brought a wheelchair from home, took him to get his voter ID at the Arlington County Registrar’s office, and then took him to vote!
Now we are working to help Mr. Teah collect documents so he can get his Virginia ID. He’s a US citizen but he was born in a foreign country, so we can’t get a US birth certificate and replacing citizenship docs is
expensive, $555 in fact, and difficult to get. YES I SAID $555.
Spread The Vote is committed to helping Mr. Teah replace his citizenship papers so he can get the ID he needs to get out of the shelter and replace his Medicaid card so he can get medical care.
Luckily, this STV chapter has a volunteer with a wheelchair-accessible
van that she's generously offering for transportation. Without her we
would have to hire private transportation. These are the roadblocks that people face when they need IDs. It's just wrong.