July 27, 2017

Mexico’s national voter IDs part of culture – and nobody says it is “anti-Hispanic” (and it has fingerprints)

Posted by D.A. King at 5:14 pm - Email the author   Print This Post Print This Post  


photo: Snopes.com


USA Today

Mexico’s national voter IDs part of culture
By David Agren, Special for USA TODAY

Updated 1/25/2012

MEXICO CITY – Office worker Ana Martínez lined up at 7 a.m. on a recent Sunday to renew her voter credential, a document required at a polling station to vote.

Mexicans recently flocked to modules run by the country’s electoral institute in order to renew voter credentials.
By David Agren,, Special for USA TODAY

Mexicans recently flocked to modules run by the country’s electoral institute in order to renew voter credentials.

Mexicans recently flocked to modules run by the country’s electoral institute in order to renew voter credentials.

But voting was not the main reason she was getting it. The free photo ID issued by the Federal Electoral Institute had become the accepted way to prove one’s identity — and is a one-card way to open a bank account, board an airplane and buy beer.

Voting was almost an afterthought to Martínez.

“They ask for it everywhere,” she said. “It’s very difficult to live without it.”

National IDs for voting, or proving citizenship, is an idea that is being floated in the United States to crack down on voter fraud, illegal immigration and foreign terrorists.

Proponents, such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform, say it is an efficient way to verify identities and prevent crime. Opponents, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, describe it as an invasion of privacy. Minority advocacy groups have even alleged that the cards would frighten minorities going to the polls.

But Mexico has not seen many problems with its card, and national identity cards have been issued for years in France, Poland, Singapore, Brazil, to prove citizenship.

Boosts country’s democracy

Mexican officials unveiled the voting ID two decades ago to properly identify electors in a country with a history of voters casting multiple ballots and curious vote counts resulting in charges of fraud — most notoriously in 1988 when a computer crash wiped out early results favoring the opposition.

The credential proved so good at guaranteeing the identification of electors that it became the country’s preferred credential, one now possessed by just about every adult Mexican. Its widespread acceptance deepened democracy, too, by giving credibility to the Federal Electoral Institute, analysts say. The agency was created as an independent agency to oversee federal elections.

“It’s a very important prop for support of that institution,” said Federico Estévez, political science professor at the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico. “What people really know about (the electoral institute) is the card.”

The card must be renewed every 10 years. This meant thousands of Mexicans whose cards were expiring had to apply for a new one prior to Jan. 15 if they wanted to vote in the July 1 presidential election, prompting long lines outside agency service centers.

People in the lines were clutching folders of documents needed for renewal: a birth certificate, another form of photo identification and a recent utility bill.

Unlike Mexico, whose voting rules are set by the federal government, the United States leaves many voting requirements up to individual states.

Minority groups say the requirements could diminish voter turnout and negatively impact the elderly, students and African-American and Latino voters who are less likely to have the required identification.

“The complaint is basically the requiring (of a photo identification) that not everybody has and creating an extra burden and cost to get that,” said Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the democracy program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s law school.

Some U.S. states, including Texas and South Carolina, approved laws last year requiring voters to show a government photo identification prior to voting. The U.S. Justice Department rejected the law, saying it discriminates against minorities.

South Carolina’s attorney general’s office said there is no evidence that has ever happened in other states that require voter IDs. Citing the cards’ necessity to safeguard the integrity of elections, the state argued in a lawsuit against Justice that of an estimated 239,233 registered voters with no appropriate photo ID, 37,000 were deceased and 91,000 no longer lived in South Carolina.

The debate also has national security implications. Improved identifications were recommended by the 9/11 Commission given that the hijackers had driver’s licenses or state non-driver’s identification cards that they used to rent apartments, open bank accounts and board planes. Social Security numbers are often used as proof of eligibility to work, but illegal immigrants often use stolen numbers.

Carries tough rules

Mexico’s voter ID has some key elements that make them acceptable to the public, say officials here. They cost nothing to obtain and the issuing agency operates hundreds of service centers nationwide, making requests relatively easy.

Though some U.S. states allow people to vote without IDs, Mexico makes no exceptions for individuals lacking the proper documents. The Federal Electoral Institute also refused to extend the registration period or grant an amnesty for those applying late, leaving more than a million people ineligible to vote.

“It is a matter that has to do with a culture of respect for the law,” Francisco Guerrero, one of the nine commissioners on the institute, told the newspaper Reforma.

The agency makes no apologies for the tough rules or requiring photo identifications, given Mexico’s history of troubled elections. “We started from such a point of distrust, especially in the electoral system,” institute commissioner María Marván said.

“In order to strengthen democracy, we have to start believing in our own institutions. That’s a big challenge in Mexico.” HERE to read the rest.