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Washtenaw County first in state to issue county ID cards

Washtenaw County Clerk

Washtenaw County says its new county identification card will help a lot of people, like homeless, transgender, and undocumented residents.

But it's available to everyone, and one of its main champions, Yousef Rabhi, Vice Chairman of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners, says he plans to get one.

He says it's difficult for some people to get a state-issued ID card, and for others, it's impossible.

The card will serve a number of purposes, such as helping people open a bank account for the first time.

"Now you can potentially open a checking account, with many banks and financial institutions in town, using your Washtenaw ID," says Rabhi.  "So you don't have to go to a pawn shop or a check cashing institution where you get a significant amount of your paycheck taken from you by that business."

He says the cards will also help with public safety.

"If you don't have an ID card right now,  if you're the victim of a crime or you're witnessing a crime happening, people with no identification are often afraid to call the police for help."

Washtenaw County is the first county in Michigan to issue its own ID cards. 

The application fee for a card is $25, and people will have to prove their identities, using documents such as an employee or educational institution ID card, taxpayer identification letter from the IRS, a criminal record check, or expired license or passport.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.