Poor in Michigan with no ID. “I am somebody. I just can’t prove it.”

Detroit Journalism Cooperative,  April 16, 2018

[T]he process [of acquiring a State ID] can take six months and unfold through a series of fits, starts and bureaucratic walls that reveals the everyday hassle of being poor. …

Lacking identification is a surprisingly common problem, particularly in cities: As many as 1 in 10 Americans don’t have a government-issued ID, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law. Other studies claim as many as 13 percent of African-Americans lack IDs.

It’s an issue that’s both practical and political. Fears of voter fraud, terrorism and identity theft have many government officials reluctant to ease requirements to get IDs to vote; requirements that increased significantly after the 2001 terror attacks.

The push has come predominantly from conservative lawmakers, raising accusations among progressives that Republicans’ real goal is to suppress election turnout of black and Hispanic voters, who tend to vote Democratic.

Nationwide, 34 states have laws requiring voters to show IDs to cast ballots. ...

“You need ID to get ID,” said Greg Markus, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Michigan and an organizer with Detroit Action Commonwealth, a social services agency which guides about 25 people per week through the process of getting IDs, including Tucker.

“You need a Social Security card to get a state ID,” Markus said. “You need a state ID to get a Social Security card. You need a birth certificate to get a state ID. So where do you start?” …

Getting an ID is so complicated most people “can’t do it alone,” said Pat Rodenhouse, a part-time employee with Degage Ministries in Grand Rapids, which has helped about 500 people a year get ID since 2001.

By Joel Kurth and Ted Roelofs

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