‘I felt whole once I got my driver’s license again,’ said Texas Voter
BY ERIN C., DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR, VOTERIDERS — OCTOBER 18, 2023
In one fell swoop, fifty-one-year-old Fandrea Nazir lost her Social Security card and birth certificate — as well as the birth certificates of her two daughters and two grandchildren — when the folder in which they were stored was mistakenly thrown away by someone at a Houston shelter where Fandrea and her family were temporarily living.
She knew she was in trouble. Fandrea needed a job, but with an expired driver’s license, no birth certificate, and no Social Security card, most employers would not hire her.
“Without acceptable ID, doing anything that required me to prove my identity was more difficult,” Fandrea explained. “Especially getting a job. Anything related to school, work, medical care, accessing government benefits — all these things are restricted if they don’t accept your expired license. It’s a crazy circle that you get stuck in. It’s horrible.”
Luckily, Fandrea learned about VoteRiders at Career & Resources Recovery (CRR), a VoteRiders partner organization that helps people reach financial stability through free wellness, education, workforce development, and affordable housing resources. When Fandrea explained to a CRR rep that she was struggling to find a job due to her expired identification and lack of underlying documents, they told her to come back next week and someone from VoteRiders would be there to help.
The following week, Fandrea returned, and VoteRiders’ Houston Regional Coordinator, Jessica Hulett, assured her that she would help get her the license and underlying documents she needed.
“When I went to CRR that Tuesday, I ran into Jessica from VoteRiders and she gave me her card,” Fandrea explained. “I felt more at ease. I didn’t feel judged, I didn’t have any questions. VoteRiders is a very rewarding organization that helps people improve their lives.”
First Jessica helped Fandrea order a replacement Social Security card and new birth certificate copies for herself and her family. When Fandrea received these documents in the mail several weeks later, Jessica instructed Fandrea on how to complete a Texas affidavit to prove her Texas residency since she did not yet have stable housing. From there, Fandrea was finally ready to complete the last step in her months-long journey to secure a new Texas driver’s license. Jessica gave her an envelope with the amount required to pay for her new ID and arranged free transportation to and from the DMV. After that, all Fandrea had to do was wait for her new ID to arrive in the mail, which it did, shortly thereafter.
“I felt whole once I got my driver’s license again,” said Fandrea. “Why? Because everywhere you go, you need an ID.”
With documentation to prove her identity, Fandrea can now work towards securing stable housing for herself and her family.
“Now I can get financially situated so I can have a home again instead of living here and there, on the street, and everywhere else,” she said.
Fandrea is also considering applying for a scholarship so she can finally complete her medical degree, a path she pursued years ago but was unable to finish. Now, Fandrea’s daughter is in the same program that she herself was once enrolled in.
“I’m pushing her to complete the program,” Fandrea explained. “I see her trying to follow in my footsteps and she’s like, ‘Come on mom, take this class with me.’ I think I can do it too.”
In Texas, voters are asked to show photo ID to cast a ballot, so Fandrea plans to use her new Texas driver’s license to vote in upcoming elections, including this year’s high-stakes Houston mayoral race.
“Everybody thinks that their vote doesn’t matter, that it doesn’t even get counted,” she said. “Well, you know, that’s what they want people to feel like. I encourage my children who are 18 years old and over to vote early. We all try to vote together and the kids are seeing us do it.”