How To Replace Voter ID After A Disaster
Written by: VoteRiders
Originally posted in 2020, we’re re-sharing this article in the wake of Hurricane Ian. Our Florida team, Jazlyn Gallego, Eli Garcia, and many wonderful volunteers, are working around the clock to help people replace lost documents, make DMV appointments, and obtain the IDs they need to vote in Florida ahead of the quickly-approaching midterms. Too many Central Florida residents lost everything, including important documents like birth certificates or Social Security cards because of Ian. Not only that, but countless DMV appointments — some of which we worked for weeks to schedule and coordinate transportation to — were canceled before, during, and immediately after the hurricane.
If you or a loved one have lost ID documents in a fire, flood, hurricane or other disaster, you have compounded stress on top of heartbreak. Replacing your vital records and ID is one of the most important tasks to handle after an accident or natural disaster. Identification documents are important in all aspects of your life: your financial well-being, school enrollment, all kinds of insurance – and, in over two-thirds of states, voting.
It can sometimes seem as if you are caught in an impossible “Catch-22” since most state agencies require that you present a photo ID in order to issue a certified copy of legal papers like a birth certificate. But there is help available for voters! VoteRiders has experts on hand, including pro bono lawyers, if you need to secure your ID in order to vote. Our national toll-free Voter ID Helpline is 844-338-8743 or contact us via this website.
- If you are not able to collect mail at your address, start by notifying your local Post Office to hold your mail or forward it to your PO Box or new address. Most of your replacement documents will be mailed to you. So make sure they are delivered to a valid address!
- Compile an inventory of any forms of identification you DO have – however unlikely they may seem – especially any letters from government agencies that include your name and new address.
- Birth, death, marriage, divorce, adoption, and legal change-of-name certificates: If you are a US-born citizen, locate the vital records office in the state where you were born. There, you should be able to find your state’s specific process on how to obtain the documents you need, including instructions and information on any applicable fees and what ID is required.
- In most states, a lawyer can submit an application for a certified copy of vital documents on your behalf along with a copy of his/her photo ID.
- Social Security card – Obtaining a replacement copy of your Social Security card is a good first step if you have lost or damaged your driver’s license or state-issued photo ID.
- Find the nearest Social Security office to you by looking here.
- Print and fill out the downloadable application for a replacement Social Security card. Be sure to sign the application or it will be denied.
- The application includes a complete list of documents you will need to gather and send (originals or certified copies only) with your application, including proof of age, identity, and US Citizenship. There are many different kinds of documents accepted for each of these categories, but if you do not have access to these documents you can call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213.
- Mail – or, if any of your records are originals, take your application and documents to the Social Security office nearest you.
It will generally take around ten days to receive your Social Security card.
- The process for replacing your driver’s license or non-driver’s photo ID varies in each state – contact your local DMV office to find out the details.
Once you have your driver’s license or non-driver’s state ID along with certified copies of your vital documents, you can begin the process of obtaining the rest of your documentation, including:
- Citizenship papers – Individuals who have lost their citizenship paperwork should contact US Citizenship and Immigration Services to gain access to the forms and applications needed to obtain replacement papers.
- Financial records – Contact your bank branch or other financial institution(s) for information on how to obtain your account information. If you’re unable to contact your bank, you can reach out to the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation). Be sure to also contact any credit card companies to alert them of your damaged or lost cards.
- Property and deed documents – Your mortgage company should be able to assist you in replacing any paperwork. If you’ve lost any property deeds, contact the recorder’s office in the county where the property is located.
- School records – Once you have your IDs in hand again, you’ll be able to contact the administration offices of any of your or your children’s schools to obtain copies of relevant transcripts and various school records.
- Tax records – The IRS has a special hotline to assist citizens in times of emergency. You can call the IRS Disaster Assistance Hotline at 1-866-562-5227, or visit their website. You may also qualify for tax relief as a result of a public emergency.
- Military records – To replace your Military ID card(s) or other military records, please contact the applicable branch of service or visit the USA.gov website for more information.
- Passport – If your passport is among your lost or damaged documents, you should notify the U.S. government. To replace your passport, locate a passport facility near you. They’ll be able to walk you through the application process. You will need your certified birth certificate and other forms of ID to complete this process.
- Health insurance, Medicare/Medicaid cards – For private health insurance, contact your insurance company. Contact the Social Security Administration to replace your Medicare card. Since Medicaid is handled differently in each state, you’ll need to contact your state’s Medicaid department.