AARP Michigan Insists That Absentee Voting Be Protected from Identity Theft

Betty Q. Hixson

Lansing, Michigan – Today, AARP Michigan launched the first volley in a public awareness campaign to sound the alarm about a petition drive seeking to create unnecessary and potentially risky new requirements for those who rely on absentee voting. 

Sparking the ire of the nation’s largest nonprofit and nonpartisan organization for Americans 50 and older is the petition’s requirement that voters include a photocopy or add their driver’s license number or last four digits of their social security number on their application to vote absentee, and AARP is not having it.

“This is one of those moments when the outrage makes you get up on your feet,” said AARP Michigan Director Paula D. Cunningham. “We’ve been warning people for years not to share personal information with anyone, especially the last four digits of social security numbers, because it puts you at risk for identity theft, and now there’s a movement asking voters to do just that. Let me be clear: Mailing or emailing a copy of your driver’s license or social security card or writing those numbers out and mailing them puts you at risk of identity theft.”

According to election data, older adults historically are the most reliable voters in Michigan elections and would be most affected by the proposed changes. In the 2020 election, 64% of the 3.3 million voters who cast absentee ballots were age 50 or over. And during the last three elections in Michigan, between 55 and 60% of the total votes cast were by voters aged 50+. 

“No one’s been talking about it, but this proposal would impact older adults the most because they comprise the majority of absentee voters,” Cunningham said. “Asking them to expose their social security numbers would no doubt sideline some older adults, who are already rightfully worried about the risk of identity theft.”

Research by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) shows that older adults are more likely to be targeted for identity fraud, and in Michigan such crimes are on the uptick. In a report published last year, the FTC cited identity theft as the most common fraud reported in the state with more than 24,000 Michiganders losing an average of $590 per person.

As part of its public awareness campaign, AARP Michigan has launched digital billboards in major population centers across the state along with paid media. To find out more about AARP Michigan’s efforts to protect voting rights and prevent identify theft, visit: Visitors to the site can also use a link to urge their state legislators to VOTE NO on any proposal that creates new barriers to absentee voting and increases the risk of identity theft.

For media inquiries: Cathleen Simlar, [email protected] or 248-472-7836.

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