Don't Drink the Tea. Think With the WE.
Jul
2011
23

MAIDEN VOTAGE: Name Changes From Marriage and Divorce Make Voter ID Laws Worse for Women

This week, Pulitzer Prize winner Nick Kristof, tweeted an article about Voter ID laws disproportionately disenfranchising women. The crux of that article appears below:

Requiring voters to register with proof of citizenship is more problematic for women than for men. A survey by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU law school shows that only 66 percent of voting-age women with ready access to any proof of citizenship have a document with their current legal name. Women who have recently married or divorced and have changed their names—and whose passport, naturalization papers or birth certificate are in their former names—will then be required to obtain a certified court document showing the divorce decree or marriage certificate. These documents vary in cost from state to state but can cost upwards of $25 plus any time off work needed to obtain them. The certified court documents may not even be in the state where you now reside, further delaying and complicating matters.

And for low income persons including women earning less than $25,000 per year, at least 12 percent don’t even have ready access to passports, naturalization papers or birth certificates, according to the Brennan Center research. Voting rights advocates argue that citizenship requirements have the potential to affect millions of Americans, including low-income and women voters. The League of Women Voters in many states has long asserted these laws hinder those who can least afford to take off work and pay for transportation to get the necessary documents.

For those women who are already registered to vote, the same problem will hold true. The photo ID must be in the same name that is registered with the Election Board. Hence, any recent changes in name from divorce or marriage will require certified proof of the name change along with the new photo ID. Of course, most men need not endure such onerous paper trail requirements. But U.S. women change their names in 90 percent of marriages. Karen Celestino-Horseman, an attorney for the League of Women Voters, says “women in particular are going to be impacted,” by requirements that they produce documents authenticating every name change in cases of marriage and divorce.

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