COLUMBUS, OHIO — Columbus City officials are looking at creating a new photo identification card which could become an alternative to state-issued IDs.
The municipal ID wouldn't replace driver's licenses or other state-issued IDs but supporters of the idea said it could help people who often struggle to get a photo ID like seniors and low-income families.
"It just makes life a bit simpler for people who have trouble getting an ID," said Ed Hoffman with the citizen group One ID Columbus.
New York City was the first city to issue municipal IDs two years ago. One million New Yorkers now have one. They're able to use them to create a bank account, get city services or prove their identity to the police but they cannot use it to register to vote, buy alcohol or travel.
"Sometimes seniors or young people obviously can't get a driver's license," said Melissa Mark-Viverito, the New York City Council Speaker who helped start the program. "This is a valid form of identification that is accepted only for use within the city of New York."
City leaders in Columbus are still trying to decide if this could work in Central Ohio. The Columbus ID could combine COTA bus passes, library card and other city services into one card.
"We are also very strong in the connections to cultural institutions, museums, the library, possibly in the future transit connections that could simplify all the different ID cards people own and put it into one single ID," said Tom Gearhart with One ID Columbus.
Survivors of domestic violence or homeless people could also get a municipal ID using a PO box. Supporters said it would also be available to undocumented immigrants.
"A program like this would be quick, simple and get them engaged back in our community so they can be looking for employment opportunities, so they can be contributing to our society," said Council Member Michael Stinziano.
Stinziano said the exact cost is still to be determined. Some cities offer the ID for free. He said it's possible some federal money from the Smart Cities Challenge could be used to pay for it.
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