letters | don’t weaken the safety net again

Recent experience shows that putting photo IDs on welfare cards doesn’t help

COSTS DO matter, and fiscal prudence should control the day (“Do photo IDs work?”, Editorial, June 24). Massachusetts already tried putting photos on the cards used by welfare recipients to access benefits over a decade ago. Governor Mitt Romney pulled the plug after finding it was a costly and ineffective venture. New York ended universal photo ID in 2012. Ignoring past experience, it defies reason that Massachusetts would be the only state to reinstate this costly and ineffective practice when better tools exist to target and address alleged benefits fraud.

What are the costs? First, the obvious and significant costs of installing or borrowing photo ID equipment, increased staffing, and creating a more expensive EBT card than the current PIN-protected card. Second, the costs involved in getting low-income food stamp applicants — notably seniors, persons with disabilities, and rural residents — to locations that actually take photos. There’s also the costs of Massachusetts turning away 100 percent federally funded SNAP nutrition benefits to low-income residents who increasingly feel targeted, stigmatized, and too discouraged to seek these critical benefits.

Costs matter. Sound, compassionate and efficient social policies matter. EBT photo ID requirements have no place at the table.

Patricia Baker

Senior Policy Analyst,

Massachusetts Law
Reform Institute


Diane Sullivan

Policy Director,

Homes for Families