Dianna Duran
Dianna Duran (Courtesy of Dianna Duran)

FARMINGTON Two different views on one topic separate the two candidates seeking the New Mexico Secretary of State seat.

Incumbent Republican Dianna Duran is seeking reelection to the office she won in 2010, while Democrat Maggie Toulouse Oliver looks to overtake the seat.

Both women have served as county clerks, but when it comes to voters providing identification to vote, they hold distinct positions.

Duran, a former state senator from Otero County in southern New Mexico, visited The Daily Times on Tuesday and said requiring voters' identification at polling places would instill confidence in the state's voting system and prevent voter fraud.

"I believe the integrity of the process is critical," she said during the interview.

Maggie Toulouse Oliver
Maggie Toulouse Oliver (Courtesy of Maggie Toulouse Oliver)

She said identification would prevent people from voting in two states or claiming other identities to cast more than one vote.

"It's a safeguard to assure the integrity of the process," she said.

However, Oliver, the Bernalillo County Clerk since 2007, said requiring voters to present IDs at polling places would deter citizens from participating in elections.

She added there have only been a handful of cases of voter fraud, and most of those have been because of absentee ballots — not voting at polling places.

"I'm opposed to a strict photo ID law. We don't have evidence to show widespread voter fraud," Oliver said in a phone interview.


Duran said officials can't measure how much voter fraud would be prevented if voters were required to present IDs because the law doesn't exist now.

Both candidates said they want to increase voter participation.

Duran's approach to voter participation involves "instilling confidence in the process."

"Everything we do in the voting system, if we do our job, people will have confidence in the system," she said.

She added increasing voter registration is handled mostly by the political parties and political candidates, and her office has a minimal role in registering voters.

If elected, Oliver said she would provide more early voting options and increase the number of polling places to grow voter participation in elections.

She said the rural New Mexico community of Chaparral in Doña Ana County didn't have early voting in the last election and was swamped with voters.

"They did not have an early voting site and were overwhelmed," Oliver said.

She said if she was elected as Secretary of State, she would take a more hands-on approach to voter registration.

Oliver said she would use state offices and departments, like the Motor Vehicle Division and the Human Services Department, to aid in voter registration. Specifically for the Navajo Nation, she would restore a position, she said.

"I would restore the Navajo Nation Outreach Coordinator to get out on the Navajo Nation, and they can register voters," Oliver said.

Duran also announced a new voting system that she said will increase the efficiency of tabulating votes during the general election in November.

She said the new polls will communicate more effectively, which will allow for faster tabulation of returns on election night.

The State Legislature approved $12 million for the system over the last two years, and San Juan County is one of five counties that will use the new system.

"We're really excited about that," she said.

As for the future of voting, both candidates agree web-based voting and voting from mobile devices will be part of the future, but the integrity of the voting system is most important.

"Down the road is a way to participate in elections over the Internet, but we have not found a technique that is hackproof," Oliver said.

Duran said voters need to have the trust of the system, no matter how they vote.

"We must have a voter system that New Mexicans believe is honest and fair," Duran said.

Both candidates are running unopposed in their parties.

Erny Zah is The Daily Times business editor. He can be reached at 505-564-4638. and ezah@daily-times.com. Follow him @ernyzah on Twitter.