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Voter ID headed to ballot

ST. PAUL - A proposal requiring Minnesotans to show photographic identification before voting passed through the state Legislature today.

The proposed constitutional amendment passed the Senate 35-29 this afternoon, hours after the House passed it 72-57. Voters will decide the issue in the Nov. 6 election.

The proposed constitutional amendment would require all voters to show a government-issued photo ID to vote. The state would be required to provide free IDs to those who need them.

Those backing the bill said it will protect against voter fraud and improve Minnesota's election system.

"This bill takes that integrity one step further," said Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester.

Opponents said they worry the requirement could make it difficult for many to vote, especially the elderly, minorities and students. They also said the ID requirement could eliminate same-day voter registration and be expensive and difficult to enforce.

"The only thing this amendment can possibly accomplish is to deny an eligible voter the right to vote," Sen. Dave Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm, said.

"We are truly not targeting any class of voters except those voters not eligible to vote or doing so illegally," said Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, the bill author.

The governor cannot veto or approve the bill because it would be a constitutional amendment, but Gov. Mark Dayton has said he opposes it.

The proposed amendment would create provisional balloting, which allows people without an ID to vote, but return to a clerk's office within a set time period to show proper identification.

If voters approve the amendment, the next Legislature would hammer out the details. The requirement would be effective during elections occurring on and after Nov. 5, 2013, Newman said.

Danielle Nordine reports for Forum Communications Co.