Voter ID debate at center of key state race

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – With Election Day fast approaching, a key issue in one top New Mexico race has to do with IDs and whether voters need them to cast their ballot.

Dianna Duran, who currently holds the office, is facing a stiff challenge from Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver.

“Four years ago, newspapers called the Secretary of State’s office a mess,” a TV ad for Duran tells viewers. “And she cleaned it up.”

In her own ad, Toulouse Oliver says, “I remember my parents taking me with them to vote when I was a child.”

The commercials are all part of the back and forth battle for Secretary of State’s office.

“I think we’re going to win on Tuesday but I know were going do it with your help,” Toulouse Oliver said before a small crowd in the South Valley on Sunday night.

KRQE News 13 spoke to both her and Duran to hear what they had to say outside of those commercials.

“I truly, genuinely, passionately care about running elections,” Toulouse Oliver said.

Toulouse Oliver has served as the Bernalillo County Clerk for the last 8 years. Under her administration, she’s implemented “My Vote” centers as a way for county residents to vote in a wide array of spots.

“The next step for me is the Secretary of State’s office,” she said.

If she wants to make that next step, she will have to beat another former county clerk in Duran, who says she’s run a tight ship.

“In my administration we have seen for the first time ever, in the history of the state of New Mexico, the first error-free audit of our election returns,” Duran said in a phone interview.

The big issue in this race is voter ID laws.

“I just think that voter ID is a solution in search of a problem,” Toulouse Oliver said.

Toulouse Oliver says while voter fraud is a serious crime, it’s also very rare and ID laws would only cause a bigger headache and hurdle at the polls.

“That’s mass, widespread disenfranchisement and to me, not one voter should be deprived of their right to vote,” she said.

That’s a stark contrast of the incumbent’s opinion.

“For many years, I’ve been a proponent of voter ID,” Duran said.

Duran says it increases voter confidence and makes for a fair election.

“People want to be assured that their vote will count and count only once,” Duran said.

Political watchers expect this to be one of the closer races of election night. Different polls have put both candidates on top at different times.

Both candidates hope to offer more online services for voters if elected. They also say they will continue fighting voter fraud and seek convictions for those caught doing it.

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