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Howe backpeddles on voter ID compromise

Two weeks ago, a Republican lawmaker was pushing hard for an alternative to the proposed constitutional amendment that would require people to show a photo ID before they could vote. The alternative would instead protect election integrity through legislative action, by using what are called electronic poll books to ensure only people who are properly registered can vote.

But state Sen. John Howe, R-Red Wing, now appears to be distancing himself from some of his previous comments on the subject. In an earlier interview, Howe said he thought the electronic poll books, an idea also advocated by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, would be "a big enough step that we don't have to do anything further."

Today, Howe insisted that he's not trying to prevent the constitutional amendment from moving forward.

"I don't want to see this approach as in competition to the photo ID amendment," Howe said. "I think it's complementary."

Howe also stayed away from the news conference that Gov. Mark Dayton held to discuss the same voter verification plan. Dayton was supposed to be joined by a "bipartisan group of legislators," including Howe. But only Democrats attended.

Dayton, who vetoed a Republican-backed voter ID bill last year, said the Howe/Ritchie proposal is an opportunity for bipartisan legislation that he could support.

"What the people of Minnesota want us to do is work constructively together, work across party lines, work in a bipartisan way in their best interest," Dayton said.

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