USA Today by David Agren January 29, 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.
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."
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."