Spread The Vote Helped Marvin get a Birth Certificate REPLACED

Spread The Vote

One of the toughest cases Spread The Vote has encountered had to do with obtaining a birth certificate in a case where no original certificate was ever given.

Marvin is a wonderful, sweet gentleman who lives in a tiny boarding house in Atlanta. Spread The Vote met him one summer and started working to get him an ID. But Marvin was born in a Jim Crow town that didn’t give birth certificates to black babies. It’s tough enough to get a birth certificate REPLACED, but when you never had one in the first place… that’s a challenge.

So, Spread The Vote had to submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Social Security Administration for something called a Numident Record. It costs $27 and it’s basically a history of your Social Security life and in some states, for some forms of ID, if you are a certain age you can use it in place of a birth certificate.

It took almost four months to get Marvin’s ID. Spread The Vote’s amazing volunteer Karen was on the phone with them every week trying to find out when they would mail the record. And Marvin was calling the head of Spread The Vote every week because having this ID meant everything to him.

You see, Marvin is trapped in his home because in order to take wheelchair-accessible public transportation you need an ID to sign up. Seriously.

Not only that, but he was spending most of his income on rent for his very small room in the boarding house. He had an opportunity for better, less expensive housing but, you guessed it, he needed an ID. 

So Marvin called every week for three months and every week Spread The Vote had to say “We’re so sorry Marvin, we’re doing everything we can, we just have to keep waiting”. It was hard on everyone.

But then the SSA finally mailed the form. It was thrilling for the entire organization. Of course, then Spread The Vote had the problem of transportation since he couldn’t take public transportation. So they had to hire a private company to pick him up, wait while he was at the DMV, and take him home. It cost $130. There is no way Marvin would have been able to afford that on his own.

And then this morning, Karen, a volunteer, took Marvin to the DMV and he got his ID!

It cost Spread The Vote $189.

When they went to Marvin’s house this summer and told him that they were getting him an ID, he asked how much it would cost. They told him we would pay for everything and he started to cry. Because, like every single person they work with, he knew that he would never be able to afford an ID on his own. 

Voter ID is voter suppression. Because IDs are about a lot more than voting. Spread The Vote is changing lives every single day.