Did you know? In 22 U.S. states, a valid photo ID is required to vote.
In most states, photo IDs are also required to get a job, apply for food stamps, or even purchase certain medications.
Here’s something else: There are over 20 million Americans without valid, government-issued photo identification.
That means there are millions of votes lost every election season—and millions of voices left unheard—because eligible voters are being turned away at the polls, or simply not showing up.
Worse still, there are millions of Americans struggling to get their everyday needs met or move into new chapters of life because they can’t get an ID.
The problem is, getting an ID isn’t always easy. Fees, health, language barriers…the list is too long (not to mention paved with stumbling blocks the rest of us seem to just glide right on over.) And there’s no excuse for it.
Thankfully, there’s Spread the Vote: a nonprofit whose efforts are impacting Americans’ lives well beyond election day.
Spread the Vote: A Nonprofit Helping Americans Vote…and Live
What is Spread the Vote?
Spread the Vote is a nonprofit working to advocate for, protect, and uphold American democracy by helping people without valid photo IDs get them so they can vote.
Founder Kat Calvin started the nonprofit in 2017 when she left her Los Angeles job behind and moved to Atlanta to plant the first chapter of Spread the Vote. She knew there were millions of Americans out there whose voices were not being heard because they lived in one of the 22 U.S. states that require a valid photo ID to vote.
More importantly, she knew the solution: Get them IDs!
Just one year in, Spread the Vote had made its way to 5 states and 30 communities. Today, they work with hundreds of volunteers nationwide and have helped thousands of Americans get valid IDs.
And those thousands of Americans? With their IDs, they’ll be able to do so much more than just vote.
What does Spread the Vote do?
Simply put: Spread the Vote, at its core, helps Americans without IDs get them. But it’s more than that. They are also putting a dent in several ongoing, centuries-old issues related to voter suppression, including certain outdated laws or government loopholes that, to this day, risk silencing otherwise eligible American voters just because they are low-income, disabled, incarcerated, or of an ethnic minority.
Across the country, from shelter intake desks and city centers, to neighborhood parks, schools, and food pantries, Spread the Vote volunteers and staffers meet with individuals in need of valid photo IDs to learn more about why they’ve had an issue obtaining one. Then, they work with that individual to help pay fees, finish paperwork, make calls, and remove any other ID-related barriers or fill in any gaps.
Spread the Vote is even working to make sure every eligible voter who is currently incarcerated will be able to vote by mail during the 2020 presidential election.
Why support Spread the Vote?
Donations to Spread the Vote (even small ones) do way more than just impact voter turnout in ID-requiring states. You may not realize it, but life without a valid photo ID in any state can be really hard, and in some cases, even dangerous. Imagine not being able to get a job, a home, food stamps, or even important medications, all because you don’t have a photo ID.
Likewise, if you thought getting a photo ID was challenging because waiting your turn at the BMV could take half a lifetime, consider yourself lucky: The reality is that for many, the fees associated with renewing or getting their IDs—ranging from just a few dollars to several hundreds—are simply too much. Often, the more paperwork one needs (or legal support), the more expensive the endeavor. For others, fees aren’t the only issue: there’s transportation, health, time, or other barriers.
A $40 donation to Spread the Vote can help change one person’s life completely, just by helping them get a photo ID.
And who knows—maybe their vote (or future political campaign!) will be the one that changes the course of history?
How to Support Spread the Vote
There are a number of ways to support Spread the Vote, from volunteering, to simple one-click donations. Consider one of these ideas:
- Donate directly
- Make a regular monthly donation to become a Hamer’s Hero
- Shop their store
- Volunteer if there’s a chapter in your state
- Not in your state? Spread the vote encourages you to visit Rock the Vote to make sure you’re up-to-date on how to vote and get involved where you live
- Meet some of the folks they’ve helped
- Learn about their Vote by Mail in Jail initiative
- Print and share their education resources in your community
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