Of all the important election-related proposals that were considered in our latest New Mexico legislative session, one stands out. This is the issue of photo voter identification, which generated extreme partisan interest.
Photo voter ID was promoted in the election campaigning by our new Republican governor and also by our new Republican secretary of state, who said in legislative hearings that it was the issue most frequently raised by her supporters. She also claimed that in the Motor Vehicle Department database she had found 117 cases of noncitizens who were registered to vote. But she did not offer evidence showing whether those people had become naturalized and therefore eligible to vote, or whether the names of those in the MVD database just happened to be the same as those of other individuals in the overall voter registration database.
New Mexico is not alone in having contentious hearings on this issue. Since the successful passage of photo voter ID by Indiana in 2008, numerous states have considered it. Many with Republican-dominated legislatures have succeeded in adopting photo voter ID.
Once again, New Mexico stands out for rejecting it. Simply put, proponents of photo voter ID claim that illegal voting is a significant problem. But studies show that it’s a very rare phenomenon.