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2017 has been a terrible year for tens of thousands of people. Fires in northern California and record-setting torrential hurricanes and floods in Texas and Puerto Rico have meant that families have lost their homes and in many cases all of their belongings, including documentation and identification — Social Security cards, drivers licenses, and birth certificates. What happens when you lose your identification?  As it turns out it’s not always as easy as you might think getting  government issued ID reinstated.

“The thing is, why do they make it so hard when you lose everything, to get it back? Do you have any answers to that?” – Dennis Rickett

Today, millions of Americans live in the shadows, without any form of government issued photo identification. They can’t get social security and many can’t vote. A US Government Accounting Office study found that strict voter ID laws around the country have reduced voter turnout by 2-3 percentage points, which, according to the GAO can translate “into tens of thousands of votes lost in a single state.” Reporter Megan Marrelli tells the story of Dennis Rickett (in photo below) and his life without  a photo ID. We call our story Government Ghost.

This week on Life of the Law…

Episode 122: Government Ghost

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Production Notes:
Government Ghost was reported by Megan Marrelli and edited by Nancy Mullane with sound design by Ian Coss. Our Senior Producer is Tony Gannon. Our Post Production Editors are Kirsten Jusewicz-Haidle and Rachael Cain. Music in this episode was by Ian Coss. Jim Bennett was our engineer at the studios of KQED in San Francisco. We had engineering support from Rami Azer at Encounter Studios in Toronto.
Special thanks to Dennis Rickett and his partner, Samuel “Chip” Delaney for sharing their story with all of us at Life of the Law.
This episode of Life of the Law was funded in part by grants from the Law and Society Association, and the National Science Foundation.
© Copyright 2017 Life of the Law. All rights reserved.

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