Aerial view of Independence Monument Mexico City symbolizing the Voting ID cards.

How voting ID cards combat fraud in Mexico

Technical Innovation
6 Mins.

One of the most secure ID documents in Latin America, the new voting ID card used in Mexico includes multiple security features and state-of-the-art verification methods that have so far foiled every counterfeiting attempt. Since 2013, the card has been produced by G+D and Veridos and has been available for Mexico’s citizens – including the 12 million who live abroad. At last, all of the country’s citizens can finally benefit from the technology without the risk of identity fraud

Not just to combat electoral fraud, but also to provide a reliable mechanism to be identified, a newly designed voting ID card was made available to all Mexican citizens – including the 12 million who live abroad, to whom it was sent in a security envelope. According to the National Electoral Institute (INE), the autonomous public organization responsible for elections in Mexico, the cost and risk to make the trip back to Mexico to register for a voter ID card had deterred many people in previous elections.

The new voting ID card, produced by global identity solutions provider Veridos, meant that all of Mexico’s 132 million citizens could finally benefit from the latest technology, and could have a reliable identity document. As Jacob Prado, Mexico’s consul general in El Paso, Texas, said in 2016, “The effort had one thing in mind: to perfect – and keep perfecting – our democracy.”1

“Since we started with voter ID production in 2013, we’ve managed to improve and enhance the product to become one of the most secure documents in Latin America“
Rolando Colchado
Managing Director of Veridos Mexico

Counterfeit-proof – and cheaper than a chip

How does one produce an ID card that cannot be counterfeited? It seems that Veridos has the answer. As Rolando Colchado, Managing Director of Veridos Mexico, says, “Thanks to multiple security features and state-of-the-art verification methods, our identity solution is highly reliable and trustworthy. Since we started with voter ID production in 2013, we’ve managed to improve and enhance the product to become one of the most secure documents in Latin America.” Indeed, according to Colchado, this technologically innovative paper-based document has made it possible to foil every counterfeiting effort to date.

So far, Veridos has produced more than 80 million ID voting cards. Renewed by INE in 2019, the contract has enabled the secure production, personalization, and verification of Mexican voter ID cards as a complete service that’s available to the country’s voters within three to five days after application.

Veridos created a complicated security design, including, among other features, deliberate mistakes, guilloche patterns, and diverse microtexts to deter the counterfeiters. What makes the 2019 version of the card unique is that it includes 14 preprinted security features, several of which are invisible to the naked eye. Everything about this card is a security measure – from the actual material used to create it, to the multiple levels of encoded information that are ingeniously embedded in its layers. High-resolution printing at 12,800 DPI makes the voting card very difficult to forge – and it’s cheaper to produce than a chip or a card made of polycarbonate.

Voting ID Card in Mexico
The new voting ID card in Mexico incorporates sophisticated technology to provide millions of citizens with a reliable identity document.

The card is made of Teslin substrate, a unique synthetic paper that can literally lock ink, toner, coatings, and films into its structure so that critical information can’t be removed or changed. The new security measures that have been added since 2019 are three QR codes, two of which contain biographical and biometric information relating to the card carrier, including facial data with the capacity to store up to 10 minutiae (compressed fingerprint images). Even the color photo of the voter contains invisible information, embedded within the picture.

Creating value for the environment and for society

The new voting ID card in Mexico offers exceptional protection of the private information about the voter, whether it’s embedded in text, bar codes, images, or the background of the card. Not surprisingly, this is the ID document of choice for Mexicans – indeed, it’s the primary national ID document in the country. Whether citizens want to buy a mobile phone line or apply for a bank credit, the new version of the document could be verified remotely. The card holder would simply take a selfie and then scan the QR codes on their smartphone; a specially developed application would read the biographic information and then decode the QR codes, matching the data and providing easy, reliable verification for the citizen.

The entire production process includes the destruction of scrap material from the personalization plant, which is then recycled into concrete slabs used for building projects in the community. As Rene Miranda, Executive Director at the Federal Register of Voters in Mexico, says, “We are creating added value for the environment and society in general; through new and better production and verification technologies and taking care of the entire production process, assuring every step of the production, and considering recycling scrap material processes.”

With the global threat of identity theft increasing every day, reliable identity protection and accurate verification processes are crucial measures to protect voters’ privacy. The Mexican voter ID project has not only helped to increase security to support democracy by creating a unique, tamper-proof solution to voter identification, but it has also supplied all of Mexico’s citizens with a convenient, easy way to authenticate their identities wherever they are. 

  1. El Paso Times, 2016

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