Shortly before sunrise, the Minnesota Senate approved legislation requiring voters to present photo ID at the polls.
The issue has ignited a divisive battle at the Capitol, but after 20 hours of budget debate, Senators had little rancor to spare early Thursday morning.
“This certainly would usher our voting process into the 21st century,” said state Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove.
The measure passed 37-25 and now goes to House for final passage. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton has said he would consider the provision, but it has strong opposition from Democrats.
“Unlike other election provisions that have had bipartisan support, there was no effort by the majority party to bring the minority into the discussion,” said Sen. Katie Sieben, DFL-Newport.
She said the measure will discourage voters, which goes against Minnesota’s history of strong voter turnout.
The proposed photo ID legislation would end the current practice of residents vouching for Election Day registrants and create an entirely new system of provisional balloting.
Only nine states require photo identification to vote.
Anticipating a Dayton veto, Republicans are preparing legislation that would bypass him and put photo ID on the ballot in 2012 as a constitutional amendment.
A recent Star Tribune poll suggests voters are on the GOP's side; with 80 percent of respondents saying they favor a photo ID requirement.
Republicans majorities at the Legislature have made the voter ID measure a key goal of the session.
No state has ever passed photo ID legislation as a constitutional amendment, though it is slated to appear on the ballot in Mississippi and Missouri.
Staff writer Eric Roper contributed to this report.