Memo From Mexico | Why Is Mexico's Voter Registration System Better Than Ours?
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Mexico has a better voter registration system than the United States.

That may come as a shock to those who believe nothing in Mexico could be superior. Nevertheless, it is true.

My wife is a Mexican citizen. I've accompanied her when she votes. (Being a non-citizen here, I don't, of course, vote.) Every registered Mexican voter has a Voter ID card, complete with photograph, fingerprint, and a holographic image to prevent counterfeiting.

At the Mexican polling station, there is a book containing the photograph of every voter in the precinct. This book is available to the poll workers and observers from various parties. If there's a doubt as to someone's identity, the poll workers can simply look up the person's name and see if the photo matches up.

The Mexican voter's thumb is smudged with ink. That way, if he shows up at another polling site to vote, they know he's already voted elsewhere. (The ink wears off after a few days.)

It's a good system. Sure, Mexico has many problems. But hey, they solved that one!

Mexico's 2000 presidential election elected Vicente Fox with a plurality of the vote. Some were happy, others weren't. But there was no significant dispute over who had won the election. And that was a great accomplishment.

In contrast, U.S. voter registration is a joke. Thanks to the "Motor Voter" regime, not only is it unnecessary for a voter to prove citizenship, it is also unnecessary to prove identity. Registrars have been instructed not to be inquisitive about applicants' citizenship - or lack thereof. It should come as no surprise then, that the last few years have seen more and more examples of voter fraud coming to light, including the casting of ballots by non-citizen voters.

But now–help is on the way–or is it?

I refer to the "Help America Vote Act," recently passed by Congress and signed by President Bush on October 29th, 2002, scheduled to take effect in 2003 and 2004 (if funds are appropriated). The Help America Vote Act was opposed by the Hispanic Caucus, MALDEF and Hillary Clinton (who voted against it). But it was supported by the NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus.

(Some would argue that voter registration should be the responsibility of states and not the federal government anyway. It's a valid point. I hope they are working in their own states to improve voter registration standards there.)

In the meantime, what is there about this new federal law that could possibly improve our voter registration system?

Well, it does authorize funds for computerized voter lists. And everyone registering is required to provide a driver's license or social security number. And election officials are actually supposed to try to verify the numbers.

First-time voters registering by mail have to provide proof of identity (a photo ID, utility bill, paycheck, bank statement, or government document with name and address) when registering or voting.

That's good as far as it goes. But what about everybody else? Why not, like Mexico, require a permament voter ID, with photo, for everybody, all the time?

Reason: Hispanic pressure groups like MALDEF and National Council of La Raza wouldn't like it. Every time the suggestion of a photo ID comes up, some so-called Hispanic activist or defender attacks it as discriminatory. In Massachusetts, a federal judge struck down a municipal regulation requiring voters to show an ID before voting on the grounds that it "unfairly burdened Latino voters."

Photo ID is inherently discriminatory against Hispanics? That's funny - it works here in Mexico, where almost everybody is Hispanic!

As for "discrimination," isn't electoral law supposed to discriminate between citizens and non-citizens?

Well, you can't expect MALDEF and NCLR to care more about common civic values than the advancement of their own agenda, now, can you?

Besides, there is a simple solution to the "ID Discrimination Problem."

I suggest we follow Mexico's example, where the government pays for the photo IDs. Why not? The government wastes money on so many things already. What's better than spending money on improving our voter registration system? Then maybe someday we could bring it up to Mexican standards.

I hope the new Republican Congress proves me wrong, but so far, I don't see the new law as a panacea. If the money is appropriated and IF the registration provisions are enforced, such provisions would be a step in the right direction.

But what will it really do to prevent non-citizen voting? Oh, it has a real tough provision for that! The Help America Vote Act requires the mail-in registration forms ask the question, "Are you a citizen of the United States of America?"

It even supplies handy boxes where the applicant can answer "yes" or "no."

Don't worry MALDEF! Senator Christopher Dodd, the Act's principal Senate sponsor, reassures you with these words:

"The checkoff box is a tool for registrars to use to verify citizenship. Nothing in the legislation requires a checkoff or invalidates the form if the box is left blank."

Yes, the U.S. has a long way to go to get up to Mexico's standards.

American citizen Allan Wall lives in Mexico, but spends a total of about six weeks a year in the state of Texas, where he drills with the Texas Army National Guard. VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his FRONTPAGEMAG.COM articles are archived here. Readers can contact Allan Wall at



January 04, 2003

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