IDs should be free, accessible for everyone

IDs should be free, accessible for everyone

Juana Garcia/The Cougar

State-issued identification cards are used in many aspects of society such as voting, finding housing, employment and more. Because IDs are so important to have to participate in these things, they should be free of charge and accessible to get.

By making IDs cost money to acquire, marginalized people struggle to participate in society and improve their situations. A lot of people are left out just because they can not afford identification. For example, the strict voting laws in Texas reduce voter turnout by two to three percent which translates to about 10,000 or more votes in a state. 

Most of the people who are affected by these laws are minorities, who tend to lack photo IDs more than white people. This is likely due to a large wealth gap between white people and minorities. 

When it comes to checking the authenticity of IDs in general, minority voters are questioned more than white voters. Voter ID laws already have issues of racism, so the costs put on IDs make it even worse.

To add on, the process of getting an ID is tedious as well. Applicants have to make sure they have the proper documents like their birth certificate, appointments and travel resources available in order to get one. Low-income families may be unable to afford the costs of such a process and can’t receive IDs. 

If you don’t have the right documents such as a birth certificate, new copies cost money to get.

Additionally, there’s often a Catch 22 to trying to find the right documents to get an ID. To get a birth certificate in Texas you need an ID, but to get an ID you need a birth certificate. 

As for people without a physical address, they are unable to get identifications which leave them out of very important elections. Without a physical address and identification, it is also difficult to find an employer who will overlook those shortcomings and give them a job that will provide them the income to move forward in their life. 

This makes it difficult for homeless people to get out of their situation. They don’t have an address, or maybe even the money or documents to get an ID. 

An organization that recognizes this issue is The Homeless I.D. Project. The project aims to provide homeless people with required documents to help them get identification that opens up the doors to things like housing, jobs, voting rights and more. 

4,664 documents were issued to individuals which calculated a total cost of $233,200, according to their 2020 report. To make it simpler, that is $50 per document spent that these individuals did not have.

It’s great that there are organizations out there helping people get what they need, but there needs to be a structural change. 

A lot of the issues with people not having access to voting, job searching and housing could be improved if IDs were free and a right to all. Homeless people, poor people and others who struggle to get IDs still deserve to have access to these things. 

There is no reason why an individual is to be denied the right to vote, have a job, own a house or even open a bank account because they did not have the money to possess an ID. With this logic, these people will never get out of the cycle and continue to have their progress halted over something that should be free in the first place. 

No one should be kept from the resources they need to advance in their lives just because of a money or paperwork issue. In order to become a society that helps people out of their bad situations, IDs should be free and accessible to all who need them.

Cindy Rivas Alfaro is a journalism freshman who can be reached at [email protected]

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