"Attempting to find the required documentation from decades past has been found to be extremely difficult for family members — and nearly impossible for a frail elder," said Patti Cullen, president and CEO of Care Providers of Minnesota, which represents nursing homes and home- and community-based caregivers.
People moving into assisted living or nursing homes close to Election Day also might fall through the cracks if they didn't have the time — or help — to get a photo ID with a current address, said Amy McDonough, associate state director for advocacy for AARP Minnesota.
State Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, who oversaw Minnesota elections for eight years while secretary of state, is leading the effort to require voter photo IDs. She said voting is such an important constitutional right that it needs more safeguarding from fraud than cashing a check — not less.
"A vote is infinitely more valuable," she said.
To critics who say there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud, Kiffmeyer responds: "How do you know? Without a photo ID, how do you know whether or not you have fraud?" She noted that courts have upheld voter ID laws elsewhere without evidence of fraud, ruling that shoring up public confidence in elections and deterring and detecting fraud are sufficient reasons to implement voter ID.
Kiffmeyer promised that the referendum bill would be "written in a way that allows a path for [older people] to get what is needed."
"The seniors are my greatest concern," she said, "but I'm confident with our approach to make sure their ability to vote is protected."
The League and AARP Minnesota plan to inform the public about the implications of voter ID proposals, especially for older citizens. They hope the details will give voters pause.
"Traditionally, older voters participate year in and year out, and have for their entire lives," said Seth Boffeli, AARP Minnesota communications director. "This is a really big part of these people's lives that now is going to be called into question."
Amy Kuebelbeck is a freelance writer in Saint Paul, Minn.