This post was written in collaboration with the staff at Spread the Vote.
Simply put, a voter ID law is any regulation requiring that a voter furnish proof of identity in order to cast a ballot in an election. As of 2016, over 30 states have voter ID laws in place. On the surface, these laws seem like common sense, but a closer look reveals that they do more harm than good.
The obstacles to obtaining an ID are numerous. If a voter manages to gather all of their paperwork, other challenges loom, such as actually getting to the nearest ID-issuing office. Over 10 million eligible voters live more than 10 miles from their nearest ID-issuing office. Many offices are only open during limited hours – these are often concentrated in poor, rural, and majority-minority areas. Offices in cities often face long wait times due to high demand. The working poor often cannot afford to take time off in order to go obtain ID, or risk losing their job if they do so. For many, the cost of transportation alone is an insurmountable obstacle.
This is where Spread The Vote comes in, founded in 2017, their goal is to help every single American, no matter their background or party affiliation, obtain the identification they need to participate in our democracy. They work directly in states with ID laws to help voters through every phase of the process providing compensation for paperwork, rides to the DMV and expert advice with the goal of making it as easy as possible for Americans to follow the laws.
“Our goal is to help every single American, no matter their background or party affiliation, obtain the identification they need,” said Cristelle Brown, Senior State Director, Partnerships. “We believe voting is the sacred right of every American, and every American should be able to exercise it, because we know our democracy is stronger when more voters participate.”
Additionally, Spread the Vote launched Voter Ed, a civic and voter education program with the passionate intention of addressing the lack of resources for adults who want to be civically engaged but may need help learning the fundamentals of voting and the democratic process.
“We believe that smarter voters are frequent voters. Therefore, we also provide our clientele with the education and resources they’ll need to successfully participate in the voting process on local, state, and national levels,” said Brown.
As a way to engage the voting population and support discussions about voting year-round, Voter Ed answers one frequently asked voter question every month about the voting process or civics with a detailed look at everything a voter needs to know about that topic. Working with our partners around the country, Voter Ed will be used by organizations that interact with our target audience: adults who are eligible to vote, but need that additional support to confidently participate in the voting process.
Learn more about supporting people in states with Voter ID laws by RSVP’ing to our Voter ID webinar Thursday at 2pm ET with Arekia Bennett from Mississippi Votes, David Griggs from Vote Riders and Don Waisanen from CUNY Marxe School of Public and International Affairs.
You can follow Spread the Vote on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @SpreadTheVoteUS and visit them at SpreadTheVote.org.