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Conference committee will take up Voter ID differences

A provision to allow “equivalent” verification measures is a key disagreement.

The state House Monday rejected the Senate’s version of a measure that would require voters to show a photo ID at the polls, ensuring the two bodies will hash out their differences in conference committee.

A provision introduced by GOP Sen. John Howe on Friday – when the Senate passed the Voter ID constitutional amendment along near party lines – is likely at the heart of the disagreement between the two bodies. Both passed the measure last week.

Howe’s provision broadened the amendment’s language to include “equivalent” verification measures to ensure that future technologies wouldn’t be locked out of the state Constitution. It passed the Senate with wide support (63- 3), including backing from Sen. Scott Newman, the bill’s chief sponsor there, who said he “philosophically” agrees with it.

“This amendment would allow for that advancement of technology to be used in our election systems,” Howe said on the Senate floor Friday, noting that photographs could become an obsolete identification technology in the future.

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But Howe wasn’t included in the Senate-side conference committee announced Monday, signaling potential trouble for his amendment. Adding to the measure’s uncertain future, two of the three senators that voted “no” on the amendment are part of the five Senate conferees.

“I’m disappointed because I wanted to be a problem solver,” Howe said in an interview Monday. “I wanted to be part of the conference committee to ensure this amendment survived the conference committee.”

DFLers in the House and Senate also strongly support the language.

Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer – the proposed constitutional amendment’s chief House author – said Monday that conference committee meetings haven’t been scheduled yet. She was also tightlipped about her thoughts on the Senate language.

“I tell you what, and I got to go,” she said. “The Senate did a good job on the majority of their language …. We’re not concurring and we have House language, so we’re going to put those two together and work it out.”

When pressed multiple times about the Howe amendment, she began walking away. “I gotta go,” she said. “I gotta go.”

The House conferees are Kiffmeyer, Sarah Anderson, Mike Benson, Keith Downey and Steve Drazkowski. The Senate conferees are Scott Newman, Warren Limmer, Dave Thompson, Ted Daley and Ted Lillie. Both Limmer and Thompson voted against the Howe amendment.