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Larry Stirling
Larry Stirling is a former State Senator and Retired Superior Court Judge

Trust But Verify
Mexico has a better voting system than California?
[Larry Stirling] 10/23/03

I was very surprised when an early-morning knock at my Mexico City hotel room resulted in a man confiscating all the liquor in the room's mini bar. It turns out it was election day.

No one is allowed to sell liquor anywhere in Mexico on election day. Such a law must come as a shock to the thousands of besotted Americans hanging out in various cantinas.

I was in Mexico, along with several other San Diegans, to act as "international observers" for the Vicente Fox election.

I had anticipated a rude system of some sort, but instead I found their balloting system to be extremely respectable and superior to ours in many important ways.

For openers, Mexico has established a separate judiciary to handle election controversies.

Such a system here would have avoided the trashing of the Florida and United States supreme courts.

The Mexican system focuses on verification.

A voter has to have a voter identification card to vote, period.

To obtain such a card, they have to prove that they are not only citizens of Mexico, but residents of that precinct. The voter card requires picture and thumbprint.

When a Mexican voter approaches the poll, they are not allowed to vote until that card is presented and then matched with a picture identification in that precinct's voter directory.

After voting, the voter ID card is punched so that the card cannot be used again in that election.

Then the voter has long-lasting ink put on their thumb so that they cannot vote again. Mexican poll officials do not trust, they verify everything.

The Mexican system rightfully anticipates that there will be problems at the poll.

When a problem arises, the three poll officials meet and confer with the party designated poll watchers. They then vote on a solution.

The poll authorities then write an incident report, and every poll watcher must concur or not in writing, right on the same incident report.

Try to find that in our precincts.

If a poll-level solution cannot be unanimously concluded, the matter is immediately transmitted to the attention of a statewide organization in real time via telephone.

The local officials and watchers each have counterparts at the state level. The process is repeated at the state level if necessary.

If state poll officials cannot resolve the matter, the contending poll watchers go right to the state elections court. They can then appeal that decision, in real time, directly to the elections supreme court in Mexico City.

It is a great system.

Now compare that to San Diego's system. No identification is required to be presented at the poll. No one can even ask for identification.

No proof of citizenship is required to register to vote. No one can be asked about citizenship at the time of registration. And people can show up at the polls and claim there is some screw up somewhere and vote anyway.

Gail Stewart, spokeswoman for the district attorney's office, said the office has no record of ever having prosecuted a voter fraud case.

Our excellent registrar of voters does not remember a single case of voter fraud even being referred to the district attorney.

This is in the face of the fact that there have been numerous public complaints about fraud in our polling. I referred several such complaints and will report back to you whether the district attorney takes any action or even responds. I will give them a year.

In other words, our system is a system is the opposite of Mexico's.

With the federal "motor-voter" law, everyone that gets a driver license will be given a voter registration application. The Department of Motor Vehicles does not check social security numbers to see if they are valid.

And now thanks to the California Legislature and a pandering governor, anyone from any country can obtain a driver license.

In other words, our system is wide open for fraud.

I hope that California does not request a squad of international observers to verify our elections. I don't think ours would measure up very well.

We should trust and verify.

copyright 2003 Larry Stirling


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