Clinic business

Photo ID clinic in North St. Louis aims to help people vote

A St. Louis economic justice organization is organizing a photo ID clinic Saturday in North St. Louis at the Hub to help Missourians in low-income areas obtain birth certificates or photo IDs.

volunteers with the Ashrei Foundation will discuss how to obtain proper state identification documents from government agencies for housing applications, employment, and especially to vote in the upcoming election.

There are many barriers to accessing a photo ID or birth certificate because each document has its own process, which can be complicated and time-consuming, said Sara Ruiz, executive director of the foundation.

“For someone who has multiple jobs, who can’t take time off, who may not have the money to pay for the bus to get to where they need to go, they’re going to make choices and sacrifices really difficult to get there so they can exercise their constitutional right to vote,” Ruiz said.

After clinic volunteers review with residents the process of retrieving a birth certificate or state-issued non-driver identification card, they will provide an information pack which will include next steps. The foundation will cover the cost of the birth certificate or ID, if residents are not eligible to receive free state-issued ID. It will also provide transportation funds to help people get to and from local state agencies or a Missouri motor vehicle location.

The foundation adopted the clinic model of St. Francis Xavier College Church in St. Louis, which began helping people in low-income areas, people with disabilities, seniors, and underserved communities get birth certificates or photo IDs nearly 30 years ago.

Ruiz said the photo ID clinic is especially important now that a new missouri law requires people to have state-issued photo ID to vote in any election. Student cards, voter cards, expired ID cards or driver’s licenses from another state are no longer accepted at the polls.

Suffrage advocates say the new law will affect Missourians of color and low-income residents the most because they face the most difficulty voting.

“Many people do not have access to a DMV office. Many are not open in the evenings or on weekends, making it very difficult for low-wage workers or shift workers to get to a DMV office during business hours when they are open,” said Denise Lieberman, director and general counsel of the Missouri Voters Protection Coalition.

She said communities of color, older people, parents without child care and people with disabilities are the least likely to have ID cards and won’t go out of their way to get one. retrieve one, which also prevents them from voting.

They need to get help in the communities where they live, from community members they know and trust,” Lieberman said. “That’s why these regional clinics are so necessary and so important to be able to talk to voters and make sure they understand the rules and have the help they need to get those IDs.”

The foundation also works with St. Francis Xavier College Church from September 12 to train volunteers virtually on ways to help residents retrieve the documents needed to vote and teach people how to develop and start their own community photo ID clinic.

“I think when you look at a Missouri legislature that has enacted laws, addressing issues that don’t exist, in order to silence the voices they don’t want to hear, then those are exactly the intersections of democracy and of the faith in which we are called to defend,” said Ruiz.

The North St. Louis Photo ID Clinic is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at 3000 East Prairie Ave. Walk-ins welcome.

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