"In My Lifetime, There Hasn't Been a Greater Time To Vote Than Now" Says Alabama Voter

Edward’s life began to spiral after he lost his job and his Alabama state ID was stolen after someone broke into his car. His situation worsened with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which left Edward ineligible for government aid without proper identification. Edward faced bureaucratic hurdles and repeated rejections for nearly five years during his attempts to obtain a new ID. A radio PSA, broadcasted from Georgia, describing VoteRiders’ free services offered a lifeline, leading to weeks of dedicated assistance from VoteRiders staff and volunteers who were able to help Edward secure his ID. Edward can now work, vote, and travel to visit his family. 



Everything fell apart at once. 

First, Best Buy underwent a restructuring and 43-year-old Edward lost his supervisor position. 

As he was actively looking for new employment, his car was broken into and everything was stolen, including his wallet, which held his Alabama state ID. 

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. 

Without an ID, Edward couldn’t get a new job. He also wasn’t eligible for the COVID-19 economic impact payments the US government gave to individuals and families. 

Edward spent years trying to secure a new identification. 

“During the next five years, I would periodically go down to the ID office,“ he explained. “I attempted to get my ID 20 or so times but I would always get stopped at the door. Each place I went, they’d want me to have something I didn’t have. They’d say, ‘You don’t have this information so you can’t get your ID.’ They wanted me to have three forms of primary ID and one of those forms is a government ID, which was what I was trying to get! I was going in circles. It was a horrible experience.”

No ID meant that for almost five years Edward couldn’t receive government benefits, couldn’t secure a job, and couldn’t exercise his freedom to vote. He also knew he wouldn’t be able to fly to Chicago to see his son graduate from his Navy Boot Camp. 

Then, one day in January 2024, Edward was in the car with his wife in his home state of Alabama when he happened to hear a radio PSA from a Georgia radio station just across the border. This is when he learned about VoteRiders’ free voter ID services

“The ad was about the importance of voting and needing ID to vote,” he said. “And the first thing I thought was, maybe this place can help me get an ID! Voting is definitely something I wanted to do but you can’t vote in Alabama without an ID. I wanted to make sure that in November, I do use my voice. So that’s when I reached out to VoteRiders.”

After Edward called VoteRiders’ free Helpline number, a team of volunteers and staff jumped on board. Even with multiple hands on deck, Edward’s case was far from straightforward. 

With VoteRiders’ help, first Edward gathered all of the documents he could use to prove his identity — including his birth certificate, marriage license, insurance card, and high school transcript. 

But when he got to the office this time, he was stopped at the door again.

“I didn’t have a Social Security card and they said my birth certificate wasn’t enough,” Edward explained. “They wanted me to have two forms of primary ID.” 

A second employee approached Edward and mentioned that instead of a Social Security card, Edward could submit a tax return. So Edward turned around, walked four miles back home, shuffled through old paperwork, found his previous tax return, and then walked right back to the ID-issuing office. With his tax return in hand, Edward finalized the remaining paperwork and was sitting down to have his photograph taken for his new ID when the process was brought, yet again, to a staggering halt. 

This time, there was an alleged problem with the birthdate on Edward’s birth certificate. 

“The lady there said she couldn’t read the number seven clearly,” he said. “And therefore she couldn’t prove that I didn’t mess with it — even though that date was written in other places on my birth certificate.” 

So Edward left. But this time he had someone to call. 

VoteRiders’ National Voter ID Assistance Director, Pam Pearson, told Edward to go to his local Social Security Office and ask for a notarized copy of his birth certificate — VoteRiders would cover the fee.

“I asked the lady there to print out the copy of my birth certificate that they had on file and compare it to the one that I had — the one they told me wasn’t good enough,” he explained. “It was the exact same birth certificate so she put a notarized stamp on it to tell the people at the ID place that this birth certificate is not tampered with.“

Immediately after, Edward returned to the ID office with his notarized birth certificate in hand. The first employee he spoke to confirmed his paperwork was complete. A second employee, however, told him that this time, he needed a Social Security card. Edward’s patience was dwindling. He asked to speak to another employee but instead, a sheriff was called in and Edward was told to leave the premises. 

Edward contacted Pam again to give her an update on the deteriorating situation. This time, Pam found a workaround. It was not an ideal solution, as it required involving Edward’s elderly and disabled mother, but it worked. Edward’s mother accompanied her son to the Social Security Office and signed a form that allowed him to secure his Social Security card without a government-issued ID.  

With his Social Security card, notarized birth certificate, and several other secondary forms of identification, Edward returned to his ID-issuing office. This time, he was finally able to secure his Alabama state ID. 

“The biggest service VoteRiders provides is having your back,” he said. “VoteRiders gave me an inner peace, a new fighting spirit…Somebody that ain’t got nothing to do with your situation but feels your — empathy is probably the better word — showing that nobility…I think more people need to know about VoteRiders — as many as possible. “

Life is a lot different for Edward now that he has a state ID. 

With the prospect of employment on the horizon and his renewed ability to participate in his democracy, Edward feels more like a role model for his two young adult sons. 

"In My Lifetime, There Hasn't Been a Greater Time To Vote Than Now" Says Alabama Voter
Edward (far right) with his two sons

“I just want to be a productive member of society,” he explained. “Now I can be more of a father and role model for my two boys. Not having an ID took a lot away from that. Now we can all vote together. Everybody has to voice their opinion on where they want to live, where they want their kids to live. In my lifetime, there hasn’t been a greater time to vote than now.”

The safety and security that having an ID brings is also a great relief for Edward and his family. 

“Now I can get my driver’s license and drive a car without the fear of being pulled over and risking whatever comes along with that,” he explained. “I didn’t feel comfortable going anywhere without ID because somebody could ask me who I was and if I didn’t have that ID to verify who I was, I could have found myself stuck in a crazy situation.” 

With his new Alabama ID, Edward was able to hop on a plane to Chicago with his wife to attend their son’s graduation ceremony. Now his son is at a new school, only four hours away from their home. 

“Now I can get in the car and drive down there and see him,” Edward beamed. “More people need to know about VoteRiders. I’m just so happy that I heard that radio ad — I only heard it one time — I’m just so happy. Thank you, VoteRiders, for not leaving anybody out of this process.”

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