If you’re a woman in Texas, getting married or divorced could cost you your vote, especially if you drive too. In fact, Republicans are counting on it.
Under Texas’ new voter ID law, Women who were married or divorced will have to update their voter ID to match their current legal name.
It means first, middle and surname on your voter ID must be your current legal name and must match with your voter registration card exactly. This is serious stuff. Some estimates suggest this law affects 34% of eligible women voters. It is complicated, as a Texas judge found out the hard way.
District court Judge, Sandra Watts was flagged for voter fraud because her driver’s license lists her maiden name as her middle name, but her voter registration form lists her real middle name. This was never a problem for Watts during the past 49 years in which she voted with the same identification, containing the same information.
One may be tempted to suggest Watts and other women should have known to coordinate their voter registration card with the state mandated name on their driver’s license. However, we’re talking about Texas. As Watts noted, the state mandated that women use their maiden name as their middle name on their driver’s license in 1964 and the problem with the registration card is a direct result of the new voter ID law.
I don’t think most women know that this is going to create a problem,” Watts said. That their maiden name is on their driver’s license, which was mandated in 1964 when I got married, and this. And so why would I want to use a provisional ballot when I’ve been voting regular ballot for the last 49 years?
Watts had to sign a “voter affidavit” to affirm she really was the person her ID said she was. The other alternative would be the provisional ballot that won’t be counted until at least a week after an election.
Aside from the fact that getting the underlying documents for acceptable voter ID’s cost money that Republicans hope will price poor people out, access to DMV in Texas adds to the challenge, especially if you’re Hispanic. There aren’t any DMV offices in 81 of Texas’s 254 districts, most of which are predominantly Hispanic.
Single women may think twice before taking their husband’s name or going the hyphenated route. Married women (or women who are divorced) have to make sure their voter registration information matches exactly the information on their driver’s license. We can hope that courts will see this for the voter version of a TRAP law that it is. In the meantime, spread the word and get prepared.
Of course, the boys club will claim there is no trick, no complication – nothing that women can’t handle, snicker.
One might be tempted to think that Republicans did this because Greg Abbott is afraid of Wendy Davis. In reality, Republicans in Texas should be afraid of every woman whose vote they are trying to suppress.