The members of the Republican Party in the House attempted a backdoor maneuver at adding voter ID language to state law. The effort was to add an amendment to a loosely-related bill — one that would increase voter access in Chaparral, where long lines plagued the area. The amendment was tabled 38-31. The final bill, sponsored by Rep. Nate Cote, D-Las Cruces, would require an early voting site for a population center of more than 1,500 residents that is more than 50 miles from the nearest early voting site. The bill passed on a 38-31 vote. The Secretary of State’s office was not on board with the legislation.
In the fiscal impact report, Secretary of State Dianna Duran’s office wrote, “In future elections, all that needs to happen is that
Precinct 1 and Precinct 41 should be separated into two distinct polling places with two separate precinct boards. These combined precincts voted only 294 and 255 voters respectively on Election Day, a very small number by statewide standards. The creation of a separate voting site would waste precious election funds. The solution is simply using two separate polling places with two separate precinct boards.”
Cote hailed the passage of the unchanged bill in a statement after the vote. “Our job is to protect our citizen’s right to vote,” said Cote. “House Bill 524 will make it easier for people who have had to travel long distances to voter early or have ended up waiting in lines for hours to vote on Election Day. I was surprised to see this attempt to expand access to voting, turn into a debate on Voter ID, but I am glad a majority of the Representatives in the House choose to expand access to the polls not limit it.”