Pam FesslerPam Fessler is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, where she covers poverty and philanthropy.
Dr. Brenda Williams, right, with her husband, Dr. Joe Williams, in their Sumter, S.C. medical clinic. The two routinely register their patients to vote. Brenda also seeks out new voters at the county jail.
Voters stand at the voting booths inside the gymnasium at West Ashley Middle School in Charleston, S.C., in January 2008. This year, South Carolina passed a law requiring voters to show a government-issued photo ID at the polls. It still needs approval from the U.S. Justice Department, but it has voting rights advocates worried.
Voters waited in long lines in Birmingham, Ala., to cast their ballots in the 2008 presidential elections. But next year, the lines across the country may be longer as state election offices face budget cuts.
Michigan Department of Human Services caseworker Sandy Satchel works at the Family Independence Agency in Detroit. In the past few years, welfare caseloads have dropped 2 percent in Michigan while unemployment has risen 54 percent, a trend that's reflected in other states.