A panel with a Republican majority split along party lines on Friday to approve a bill requiring voters to present photo identification before casting election ballots. Similar requirements enacted in other states have ignited controversy and costly court battles; critics contend voter ID laws disenfranchise eligible voters from low-income and minority communities. The legislation now heads to the House floor. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Cathrynn Brown, R-Carlsbad, said HB 340 was drafted to safeguard the integrity of the elections process while also passing constitutional muster.
“I like to think of this more as voter authentication,” Brown told members of the House Judiciary Committee. New Mexico’s current elections system doesn’t offer enough protection against voter fraud, said Brown, admitting that “no one really knows” whether such fraud is taking place. “We hear anecdotal information,” she said. “We know that it can happen, and that’s what we need to focus on.”
Brown’s bill requires that anyone showing up to vote in person show a photo ID issued by the state, federal government or an identification from a federally-recognized Indian nation, tribe or pueblo that matches their name on the voter registration rolls.
Under the legislation, voters could use a provisional paper ballot if they show up to vote without the proper ID, but their vote would not be counted unless they show up at their county clerk’s office within two days of the election with the required ID in hand.