January 26, 2015 -
Senate Minority Whip William Payne (R-Albuquerque) put forward a new proposal last week that calls on New Mexico’s top elections officials to study the feasibility of integrating biometrics at election polls, according to a report by Star Tribune.
“This could put to rest the criticism that voters cannot afford to produce reliable photo identification when they vote,” Payne said. “Everyone has an eyeball or thumb that could be scanned for identification. No need to produce a photo ID.”
Though the U.S. has yet to introduce biometrics for the purpose of verifying voter identification at the polls, many other countries around the world have already adopted this system.
Last year, Oklahoma became the first state to propose legislation that would make it mandatory for future voter ID cards to store photos and fingerprint images. However, the measure stalled in committee.
There are currently almost three dozen states that have some form of voter ID criteria in place. Despite this, New Mexico is the only state considering introducing any kind of biometric voter ID requirement.
Payne said he hopes the proposal can curb concerns of voter suppression while raising awareness of the dangers of voter fraud.
“We’re not talking cutting-edge, next generation stuff,” Payne said. “This is already commercially applicable, and it has nothing to do with the technical literacy of the person. It has to do with the county clerks buying the right equipment, having it in place and certifying that it’s working.”
Payne’s memorial is gaining bipartisan support, Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto (D-Albuquerque), a former state elections director, said implementing biometrics could potentially provide greater security for people who vote by mail and those who show up at the polls.
“The issue becomes the feasibility of moving in this direction. Sen. Payne’s memorial seeks to evaluate that feasibility,” Ivey-Soto said.
The New Mexico secretary of state’s office said that if the biometrics measure were to pass, it would happily study the issue.