Mallyveen Teah relaxes in his Arlington, Va., apartment after work. Pam Fessler/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Pam Fessler/NPR

A woman and her daughter shop at a Greenmarket in New York City using Electronic Benefits Transfer, or food stamps. Government data show that fewer people were receiving the benefits in February 2014 than at the peak in December 2012. Andrew Burton/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Toni Smart points to the oven that she uses to heat her one-bedroom apartment, which has no heat. Smart says she and her kids stayed in homeless shelters a few years ago. She says she'd rather be without heat than in the shelter. Pam Fessler/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Pam Fessler/NPR

Desiree Metcalf, here with one of her three daughters, is one of many poor Americans who find themselves trapped in a system meant to help. Pam Fessler/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Pam Fessler/NPR

Victoria Houser of Painted Post, N.Y., is raising her son, Brayden, on her own. She says she feels stuck in a never-ending cycle, constantly worried that one financial emergency will send everything tumbling down. Pam Fessler/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Pam Fessler/NPR

An Arkansas voter enters an early-voting polling place on May 5. Danny Johnston/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Danny Johnston/AP

An election official checks a voter's photo identification at an early-voting polling site in Austin, Texas. Eric Gay/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Eric Gay/AP

States are taking an out provided by Congress to avoid cutting food stamp benefits to families, many of whom already depend on food banks like the Alameda County Community Food Bank in Oakland, Calif. Antonio Mena/Courtesy of Alameda County Community Food Bank hide caption

itoggle caption Antonio Mena/Courtesy of Alameda County Community Food Bank

Maya Gaines, of the Baltimore CASH Campaign, tries to encourage people to put aside some of their tax refunds into savings. She rings bells, cheers and dances every time someone decides to do that. Pam Fessler/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Pam Fessler/NPR

Linda Beckford (right) exercises as part of a walking group that tries to make their neighborhood a better place to live. If nothing else, the seniors feel more confident about going outside. Quoctrung Bui/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Quoctrung Bui/NPR

Robert Bauer (far left) and Benjamin Ginsberg (far right) are co-chairmen of the president's Commission on Election Administration, appointed to find solutions to election-related issues. Carolyn Kaster/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Carolyn Kaster/AP