Oklahoma Voter Who Discovered VoteRiders on TikTok Secures ID After Years Without Medical Care
BY ERIN CARDEN, DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR, VOTERIDERS — DECEMBER 19, 2023
Without a government-issued ID in Oklahoma, 64-year-old Julie Autaubo had to endure three years without critical medical care for her damaged liver.
Despite several attempts to secure her ID, a missing marriage license from 39 years ago made it impossible to safeguard her health and livelihood.
It all started five years ago when Julie moved back to Oklahoma after living in Texas for many years. Her Texas driver’s license had expired, so she went to an Oklahoma tag agency with her birth certificate in hand, ready to obtain a new Oklahoma license. What she didn’t have was her 1984 marriage license, which was required to prove her name change. Julie was told to contact the Oklahoma County Clerk’s Office to track the license down, but no one there could locate it.
Then Julie became gravely ill and had to be hospitalized. After losing half her liver due to complications during surgery, she was eventually discharged but was unable to receive medical care at her clinic because she lacked a valid ID. Not having an ID also meant she could not exercise her right to vote in Oklahoma, which is one of 38 states with a voter ID law in place.
Julie was losing hope when she stumbled across a TikTok video by content creator The Conscious Lee and learned about VoteRiders. After scanning VoteRiders’ website, Julie discovered that VoteRiders could help her track down her marriage license for free.
Julie contacted VoteRiders’ Helpline (866.ID.2.VOTE) and Shelly, a dedicated virtual ID assistance volunteer, jumped on her case. At first Shelly encountered the same roadblock Julie had faced. According to the Oklahoma County Clerk’s Office, Julie’s marriage license did not exist.
But Shelly refused to give up. Next she escalated the plan of action by contacting Julie’s Oklahoma state representative. Sure enough, Julie’s mysterious marriage license was finally uncovered.
“It exists!” Julie exclaimed. “I exist.”
After five grueling years, Julie finally has everything she needs to secure her identification. Many doors that were previously closed will finally be open. Aside from having full access to life-saving medical care, Julie will also be able to vote again.
“Voting is important to me,“ Julie explained. “It gives me the ability to have a say in our government.”
Millions of people lack valid identification, which is increasingly required to vote in the United States. Julie’s story — and stories from the many other Americans VoteRiders works with every day — shows just how difficult it can be to get one.
IDs change lives. Without one, health care, housing, employment, and so much more is much harder, if not impossible, to obtain.
Thankfully for Julie, she now knows that VoteRiders is here to provide free, direct help to anyone who needs an ID to participate in our democracy — and she’s spreading the word.