A Republican senator says he wants to broaden the technology that could be used to identify voters when the controversial photo ID bill hits the Senate floor on Friday.

Sen. John Howe, R-Red Wing, said he objects to putting "a technology into the constitution" by requiring all voters to show a photo ID when they vote.

The Senate is to take up the issue on Friday, following passage of a similar bill by the House after a debate that ended after 2:00 a.m. Wednesday.

Howe said he hopes to offer an amendment to broaden the acceptable technology that could be used to identify voters.

Howe said he is concerned that depending on photography -- a technology popularized in the 19th century -- "isn't leaving room for advancement, for new technologies."  The photo ID requirement is being proposed this year as a constitutional amendment. Once approved by voters, it would be extremely difficult to change. 

"When we deal with the Constitution, we should be thinking centuries out, not just a few years out, or a decade out," said Howe.

"When we talk about this, we should be talking about putting processes in place that allow for advancements in technology, that allow that we don't exclude anybody, but we use technology to help us include everybody," he said. "I think we're not quite there yet. I'm still working, and hopefully I can offer some assistance and improve it."

Asked if he was opposing the amendment as it now stands, he said, "I'd like to see it modified, and I'm going to work hard to do that."

He is carrying a related bill that incorporates the use of databases at the polling places to identify voters, a system known as an electronic poll book. DFL Secretary of State Mark Dayton and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton have supported this alternative.

Friday's Senate floor session is tentatively scheduled for 2 p.m.


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