In light of all the attention that American legislators have been giving voter identification, I wondered about what our North American neighbors, Canada and Mexico, do. What I learned is that American states fall somewhere in the middle, geographically and administratively.
Here is how the Voter ID page from Elections Canada reads:
To Vote, you must prove your identity and address. You have three options:
Option 1: Show one original piece of identification with your photo, name and address. It must be issued by a government agency. Example: driver’s license.
Option 2: Show two original pieces of authorized identification. Both pieces must have your name and one must also have your address. Example: health card and hydro bill.
Option 3: Take an oath and have an elector who knows you vouch for you. This person must have authorized identification and be from the same polling division as you. This person can only vouch for one person. Examples: a neighbor, your roommate.
That’s very clear—and it works throughout Canada. Mexico also has a clear rule: bring your “Credencial para Votar” to the polls. This photo-voting card is provided free of charge by the Federal Electoral Institute, and has been since 1991.
Getting the card takes some effort on the part of a citizen, and it must be re-upped every ten years. Loosely translated, regulations say that Mexicans must come in person to a government office and show three kinds of papers:
an original birth certificate or naturalization papers;
a government-issued photo ID such as a passport or driver’s license;
and something to prove the home address, such as a bank statement or lease.
When these documents are all in order, a photo and thumbprint are recorded and a card is created…to be picked up 20 to 30 days later. That card incorporates not only the photo, thumbprint, and all kinds of data, but also tamper-proof technology!