Requiring voters to present photo identification before casting ballots at the polls would disenfranchise many New Mexicans and would especially affect minorities, the elderly, students and people with disabilities, said several panelists Monday at a League of Women Voters panel discussion. Panel members urged lawmakers to vote against any photo ID bill introduced in the Legislature. However, they probably were preaching to the choir — as only Democratic legislators showed up to the event. Democrats in New Mexico, and elsewhere in the country, tend to be against voter-ID legislation, while Republicans tend to support it.
Several hours before the event, Senate Republicans issued a news release calling the event a “biased forum.” Sen. John Ryan, R-Albuquerque, told reporters that all the panelists on the forum were opponents of a plan to require photo identification to vote, and that some had even testified against previous bills in past sessions. Ryan noted that Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver was on the panel. “They could have asked some other county clerks who are for it, or the secretary of state,” Ryan said, referring to Dianna Duran, who has championed the idea for years. He said the forum should be “fair and balanced.”
But Meredith Machen of the League of Women Voters said the intent of the forum wasn’t to be a “public debate” but a presentation of information about the issue. Both the New Mexico chapter of the league and the national organization are publicly opposed to the idea.