08 February 2012
Anyone wishing to participate in the July 1 election must present a valid voter identification card issued by the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE). The introduction of the card largely cleaned up of the in-person voting part of Mexican elections, where poor folk in rural areas were previously given sandwiches and soft drinks and then taken to vote – as many time as necessary. (Nowadays, cash is a common inducement.)
The identification also bolstered the IFE, which only came into existence 20 years ago as part of a democratic transition in Mexico. While the IFE, which convenes elections and referees partisan political activity, has come under fire from the country's political parties – witness their sacking of the nine-member board back in 2007 and constant disagreement on choosing commissioners – the validity of the credential remains strong. In fact, many people lining up showed little enthusiasm for voting this year (mainly due to dissatisfaction with the candidates) but said they needed the IFE credential for carrying out the most mundane activities: going to the bank, getting into a bar, boarding an airplane, etc.
I wrote about the IFE credentials for USA TODAY. Click here to read it.