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Photo ID Law's Impact

180,000 older residents lack voter ID

Lorraine Hawkinson, worries that the strict voter ID law will prevent older people from voting.

Lorraine Hawkinson, 88, a longtime political activist, reads the newspaper to keep up with the issues. She worries that the strict voter ID law will prevent older people from voting. — Photo by Narayan Mahon/Wonderful Machine

The photo ID requirement was one of several changes contained in a sweeping election reform law passed by the Republican-controlled legislature and signed by Gov. Scott Walker, R. Sponsors said the law was necessary to reduce voter fraud.

Other provisions include:

  • Voters will no longer be allowed to vote a straight party ticket by simply making one indication of which party's candidates they prefer. Studies have shown that a significant number of older people favor straight party voting.
  • Voters will have to reside in their ward or election district at least 28 days before the election. Previously the requirement was 10 days.
  • Voters will no longer be able to vote on the day before the election. Instead, in-person absentee ballots must be cast by 5 p.m. the Friday before the election.
  • Voters applying for absentee ballots other than in person must enclose a copy of proof of identification or other authorized document with their application.
  • Voters who reside in nursing homes or other community-based residential facilities where special voting deputies are sent do not need a photo ID.

Because of these significant changes, AARP and other organizations are mobilizing to educate voters about the new requirements for obtaining a photo ID.

Helen Marks Dicks, AARP Wisconsin advocacy director, said voters having difficulty getting to a DMV office to obtain a voter ID should contact AARP Wisconsin at 1-866-448-3611 toll-free or email

Dicks said AARP is working with other organizations that will provide transportation and assistance. She advises all eligible voters to ask for a free ID card to avoid being charged the usual $28 fee.

You may also like: Get wise to voter registration scams. >>

Barbara Abel is a freelance writer based in Wauwatosa, Wis.

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