Utah Legislature: Voter ID proposal draws debate

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 27 2010 12:00 a.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Legislators debating changes to the state's voter ID law got an earful from concerned citizens at a committee meeting Tuesday.

The change would add Medicare cards to the list of approved documents voters could provide at polling stations.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Marie Poulson, D-Cottonwood Heights, argued that the current law disenfranchises senior citizens who have voted for years but no longer have current forms of ID.

AARP representative Laura Polacheck said the proposal would help seniors 80 years old and older who may have difficulty obtaining another form of ID.

"We want to encourage people to come out and vote, not create barriers," she said.

Several lawmakers expressed concerns about the document's security, and Utah Eagle Forum representative Maryann Christensen said the change could open a door to voter fraud by undocumented immigrants.

"We know illegals are living off Medicare and using Social Security numbers from other people," she said. "People have a right to vote, but we also have a right to legal elections."

ACLU of Utah attorney Marina Lowe countered by quoting a study that concluded there is no evidence of illegal immigrants voting in any substantial amount.

"We have to ask ourselves if we are worried about something that is actually a problem," she said.

The bill passed out of a divided committee on a 5-3 vote.

— Josh Smith

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