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Should MN Voters Be Required to Show a Photo ID?

January 24, 2012

ST. PAUL, Minn. – As the 2012 Minnesota Legislature begins its work, AARP Minnesota - with nearly 700,000 members statewide - will be keeping a close eye on issues that affect seniors. State Director Michele Kimball says the group opposes the idea of requiring a current photo ID to vote in elections. Nearly 20 percent of those ages 65 and older don't have one, explains Kimball.

"And if Minnesota adds a constitutional requirement for a photo ID to vote, the voting rights of thousands of our elderly, especially those that are in assisted living facilities and nursing homes, are really going to be at risk."

Kimball believes the proposed requirement is unnecessary, complicated and onerous - especially for those getting older.

"If you're talking about someone who's over the age of 80 or 70, may have been born elsewhere - and in order to obtain a voter ID, they'd have to go get a birth certificate; they might have to find their marriage or their divorce decree. And so, that is a huge concern."

Supporters of using photo identification at the polls say proving one's identity is a routine part of daily life, and they believe it will ensure accurate elections. Fifteen states now require photo IDs to vote.

Another big focus of AARP Minnesota, says Kimball, is the current effort by the Minnesota Department of Human Services to receive a Medicare reform waiver. She is convinced that would allow Minnesota to be more innovative as it looks to the future of its home and community-based care system.

"Minnesota tends to lead the nation in long-term care services, and we are taking one more step in that regard, to improve not only quality for home care, but also to improve the access and reduce cost."

Since the older adult population is expected to double in the next ten years, she says now is the time for home and community-based care to become a priority.

"So that we have the right system in place, that is not only affordable for the individual, but also for the state government and provides the services that people truly want and need. And when people need long-term care, where they want to be is in their own homes and communities."

AARP Minnesota also supports a bill aimed at cracking down on fraudulent wire transfers, which are often used to scam the elderly, and another bill that would make intentional neglect of a vulnerable adult, including seniors, a felony. Minnesota is one of only five states which does not currently have such a statute.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN