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Panel rejects photo ID plan

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ST. PAUL -- A Minnesota House committee this morning rejected a plan to require that voters produce photo identification before getting an election ballot.

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The bill by Rep. Tom Emmer would have required voters to carry photo identification, such as a driver's license, when they vote. It would have established a voter identification card for those without other valid photo identification and would have permitted provisional voting if a voter showed up without photo identification but could provide it within five days.

The Democrat-controlled State and Local Government Operations Reform, Technology and Elections Committee voted down the legislation 11-8. Rep. Phil Sterner, DFL-Rosemount, joined the committee's seven Republicans in favor of the legislation.

While the bill failed its first committee stop, the issue likely will return in future election law debates this legislative session.

The debate prompted testy exchanges among lawmakers.

Emmer, R-Delano, said a majority of Minnesotans favor requiring photo identification to vote.

"It's time to listen to them," he said.

Rep. Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, questioned the accuracy of statistics Emmer used to argue for the legislation. He said he was worried about the problems the legislation creates for senior citizens, some of whom may not have the required identification.

"This isn't some game," Marquart said of voting.

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