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City of Tallahassee considers Community IDs

Posted at 6:57 PM, Apr 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-22 18:57:59-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — There's a new push to get ID cards into the hands of the most vulnerable in our community. The city of Tallahassee is now working towards launching Community IDs.

A Community ID would be able to connect you with services and programs throughout the city, while also serving as a form of identification. City leaders say it's a good start for people trying to bounce back from hardships.

City staff is now looking into launching a Municipal ID or Community ID. The proposed card would serve as a way to show proof of identity around Tallahassee. Where accepted, it would provide access to services, entry into buildings, and enables holders to open an account with participating banks.

While the card would be open for anyone 13 and older, City Commissioner Jack Porter said this tool is especially important for people re-entering society, the homeless, and undocumented people.

"Most of us luckily have not encountered this problem but there are a lot of people who do face barriers to getting identification. A community ID would connect people with municipal services, health services that they already qualify for but don't have proof of residency or identification," said Commissioner Porter.

The card would benefit people like Julia Juhland. She's a homeless woman in Tallahassee.

"I was born in New York, I'm now in Florida. I spent 20 years in Colorado," she said.

Her big issue now is tracking down the necessary documents to get a Florida ID.

"I had to get back to my home state and apply for my birth certificate to be sent to me," she added.

Commissioner Porter says the ID would break down barriers many people without a state ID or driver's license are running into.

"One of the main benefits that is a priority right now that the community would bring is connecting people with vaccinations. There's a lot of people facing that barrier. They need to prove their residency and show an ID to get vaccinated," said the Commissioner.

Bob Rackleff is a founder of the Big Bend Voting Rights Project. He says he would like to see the program help more people vote since he runs into a lot of people who aren't registered because they don't have ID.

"It happens more than you would think and that's because we go to a lot of marginalized communities," said Rackleff.

City workers will have to check Florida statutes and also work beside the Supervisor of Elections before deciding if this ID Card could be used to help people cast a ballot. In many cities that have a Community ID, it's not an acceptable form of voter ID.

The city is now researching those issues and other ways to make the Community ID work. Commissioners will vote it once staff finishes their research.

If approved, Commissioner Porter says she wants to see pop-up sites where people with no transportation can get the ID on site. Rackleff suggests making community centers a place to get to one.

Palm Beach County does have a similar program that the city is looking to as a model.