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Minnesota voters are first to reject ID measure

MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - Minnesota became the first state to reject a measure to require a valid identification, such as drivers license, to vote.

Minnesota was only the third state to consider voter ID through a popular vote and the first to reject it, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The measure fell short of a majority, receiving 46.34 percent of the vote.

Voters in Mississippi approved a citizen initiative in 2011 that requires photo ID, which was not in effect this election, and Oklahoma voters approved a legislature-referred measure requiring some form of ID in 2010.

Photo ID laws were a hotly debated topic in the run-up to Tuesday's election. Many Republicans supported them, saying they were a common sense measure to prevent fraud. Democrats said they disenfranchised some of the elderly, young and minorities, who were less likely to have photo IDs such as drivers licenses.

Overall, 11 states requested or required voters to present a photo ID to cast votes in 2012 and 19 other states required voters to present some form of identification, according to national conference data.

Photo ID requirements in six other states were not in effect this year because of court challenges or because of plans to phase them in over time.

More than 2.9 million people cast ballots in Minnesota in this year's presidential race, a record reflecting a turnout of about 76 percent, the Minnesota secretary of state said on Wednesday.

Registered voters are not required to present identification to vote, but are required to sign the printed registration book attesting to their identity and eligibility to vote.

(Reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Greg McCune and Christopher Wilson)

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