Voter identification — requiring voters to show some kind of government issued photo ID card at the ballot box — was the biggest issue in the recent campaign for secretary of state. That debate will continue in the Legislature as a Sandia Park Republican has pre-filed a bill that would make photo identification a condition to vote. Rep. Jim Smith, who introduced a voter ID bill in 2012, said Monday that his House Bill 61 is designed to verify voters, not to disenfranchise voters — as opponents of voter ID have claimed about previous bills. In the past, voter ID bills normally get voted down along party lines in the first committee hearing. But with Republicans controlling the House for the first time in more than 60 years, there is an excellent chance that a voter ID bill will make it out of committee and pass the full House. While intense opposition from Democrats to HB 61 can be expected, the bill has the support of at least one Democratic senator.
Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto of Albuquerque, a former state elections director, said he wrote HB 61 at Smith’s request. He said the bill guards against disenfranchising voters and addresses problems with mail-in ballots. While supporting the bill, Ivey-Soto said he hasn’t decided whether he will sign on as a joint sponsor.
Smith, who sponsored a similar bill in 2012, said he took to heart criticism from American Indian voters. Thus, he said, in his new bill, enrolled members of federally recognized tribes could use identification cards or letters of enrollment that do not have photos.
HB 61 would allow expired driver’s licenses to be used for voter identification. Also the address on a driver’s license would not have to match that on the voter’s certificate of registration. “I know people move around all the time and don’t change the address on their driver’s licenses even though they’re supposed to,” Smith said.