Republican Senator Suggests Biometrics Tech to Resolve Contentious Voter ID Debate

Virtual AcceptanceBiometric technology could ease some of the pressure-cooker tension between Democrats and Republicans in New Mexico, according to an Associated Press article by Susan Montoya Bryan on More specifically, a politician has suggested the use of biometric technology for voter identification, in an effort to cool down the heated debate that has been raging over voter identification laws.

Democrats in New Mexico and other states have been vocal in their objections to Republican efforts at increasing the stringency of voter identification, arguing that it’s part of an attempt to make voting more difficult for voters belonging to demographics that tend to support the Democrats. Senate Minority Whip William Payne – a Republican – made the biometric proposal this week, hoping to “put to rest the criticism that voters cannot afford to produce reliable photo identification when they vote.”
According to the article, in pitching the idea Mr. Payne held up his own smartphone, saying, “We’re not talking cutting-edge, next generation stuff. 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.”
He makes a good point. As biometric technology has advanced and proliferated in our digital age, it has also become more affordable, appearing now not only in high-end smartphones like those offered by Apple, but in a range of cheaper mobile devices as well. And other countries are beginning to experiment with biometric e-voting on a national scale, seeing the benefits of security and ease-of-access. Given that even some US states are starting to implement biometric technology in the issuance of official government documentation, the adoption of something like fingerprint-scanning for e-voting purposes seems like the most obvious direction to go in. And indeed, Mr. Payne’s idea is starting to gain bipartisan support. In a political climate in which bilateral agreement on anything is something of a miracle, that speaks volumes about the potential of this technology.
January 26, 2015 – by Alex Perala