ST. PAUL (WCCO) -- A dramatic protest from a group of Minnesota seniors Wednesday: They cut up their AARP cards, upset because AARP is opposing the Voter ID amendment on the ballot this fall.
Minnesota seniors make up the largest single voting block on Election Day. Polling data seems to show a majority of Minnesotans support the idea of showing ID when they vote. But AARP, the state's largest senior advocacy group, says the amendment could stop thousands of the elderly from voting.
So, in a show of protest and defiance, conservative seniors cut up their AARP cards. They are calling the state's biggest advocate for the elderly out of touch with its members, whom they say support Voter ID.
"We think it's wrong for a membership-based organization to take a position on an issue that's diametrically opposed to a super majority of its members. It's just upside down," said Jeff Davis | MN Majority
AARP Minnesota says it's never polled its 700,000 member, but says that seniors oppose it once they hear what's in it. What's in it, says the state director, is troubling.
"For not only seniors, but for the disabled, this will make it significantly more difficult for them to vote. It may even prevent them from voting," said Michele Kimball of AARP Minnesota.
The Minnesota Secretary of State's office estimates at least 64,000 Minnesotans 55 and older do not have a current, valid ID.
AARP says seniors also face sudden life changes that could put them in a nursing home, and many others gave up their driver's license long ago.
"Right now, we know there are 64,000 people in the state of Minnesota who would have great difficulty getting a valid ID, a government-issued ID, in time to vote in the election," added Kimball.
However, the protesters who cut up their cards say it's not hard to get a new ID, and claim AARP's alternative is worse.
"I am concerned that what they are promoting is continued voter fraud, and not voter freedom," said Joe Rimley of White Bear Lake.
AARP Minnesota says it is non-partisan and has only one goal: protecting seniors.
AARP saw similar protests when it supported President Barack Obama's federal health care plan, but also President George W. Bush's Medicare prescription drug plan.
By cutting up the cards, the seniors lose the senior discounts and other AARP-sponsored programs, including insurance help.
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