Over the past decade, Republicans in the Legislature have repeatedly introduced legislation to require voters to show photo identification at the polls, only to watch the bills die in committees run by Democrats. Next year could be different with the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in the election last week. With a 37-33 majority, House Republicans will be able to get a photo voter ID bill through that chamber. The question is what would happen to it upon arrival in the Senate, where Democrats retain a 25-17 voting edge. Republican Secretary of State Dianna Duran, who made her support of photo voter ID a major theme of her successful re-election campaign, believes there is a chance of Senate approval. Some Democratic senators may be rethinking their positions after the GOP grabbed control of the House for the first time in more than a half-century, Duran says.
Also, Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, a supporter of photo voter ID, was re-elected by a wide margin and will be riding that voter support into the Legislature’s 60-day session beginning Jan. 20. “This is going to be a different year,” Duran says. Albuquerque voters in 2005 overwhelmingly approved a photo voter ID requirement for municipal elections.
Duran and other Republicans argue photo voter ID is needed in state elections to combat voter fraud. Democratic opponents argue that it would suppress voter turnout and that the problem of voter fraud is overblown.
Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, says he believes the Senate will remain firm against photo voter ID. “This is like a solution in search of a problem,” he says. “We’ve got plenty of people not voting as it as.”