Senators scotch bill to require candidates' photos on ballots
Some called it the vanity bill. Others thought it was the insanity plan.
Either way, a state Senate committee on Friday scotched a bill to require that a photo of each candidate be printed on the ballot, next to the office-seeker’s name.
The sponsor was Sen. Clemente Sanchez, right, the trimmest and best-dressed legislator in New Mexico. His fellow members of the Rules Committee defeated his photo bill on a 6-2 vote.
Sanchez, D-Grants, and Sen. Cliff Pirtle, R-Roswell, were the only ones to vote for it. Pirtle said he liked the idea, but was not crazy about the estimated costs.
Opposition came from Secretary of State Dianna Duran and her staff.
Their analysis said putting candidates’ photos on ballots would add $6 million to $8 million to the costs of printing systems, ballot tabulators and preprinted ballots.
Elections Director Bobbi Shearer told the committee that Sanchez’s bill, in addition to escalating costs, would lengthen the ballot considerably.
Sanchez questioned the accuracy of the secretary’s expense estimates. As for the other criticism, he said, “The ballots are getting long no matter what.”
Sanchez said his motivation for the bill was to help clear up voter confusion. His district abuts that of Sen. Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, and many voters had trouble knowing one Sanchez from the other.
Photos on the ballot, provided they were taken within the year, would serve as a valuable guide for voters, Clemente Sanchez said.
Republican Sen. Mark Moores, a former UNM football lineman and physically the biggest man in the Legislature, said he could not support a bill destined to make him look bad in the voters’ eyes.
And Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, a balding man approaching 70, jokingly said photos on ballots could be considered discriminatory.
In a choice between ugly mugs, handsome headshots and airbrushed photos, the senators ultimately chose no photos at all.