Thursday, February 6, 2014

You Ain't Right: Misses and Mrs. At the Polls




Did you know 34 out of 50 states in America require some form of ID in order to vote? And laws are only getting stricter. Proponents of the laws state that it cracks down on voter fraud - a phenom experts and pundits alike say is almost non-existent. But these laws - meant to protect the integrity of the American voting system, have an unintended side effect: They make it harder for women to 
vote. 

Before you think I'm jumping to conclusions or engaging in hyperbole, hear me out. Let's take a walk in the shoes of our friend Sally. Sally is a newlywed. Sally, like 90 percent of women, took her husband's last name. Sally dutifully changed her social security card, ID, bank cards and vital documents to reflect her new last name. But oh, no! Sally forgot to update her voter registration. In some states, Sally could be turned away entirely because the last name on her ID does not reflect the last name on her voter registration records. In other states, Sally will have to cast a provisional ballot.


These laws are majorily Republic sponsored. And while not all Republicans (as people) have a problem with women, a lot of anti-woman legislation has been introduced by the Republican Party. They aren't exactly the most XX-chromosome-friendly political party out there, ladies, in case you've been hiding under a rock for the past decade or so. I don't care what Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann, or even Ann Coulter say- the Republican Party does NOT have the best interests of women at heart.


And guess what? These laws make it harder for Democratic voters to get their ballots cast. Minorities, those living below the poverty level (who may be so poor that they can't even afford to get an ID, or update it if they move often), and the young are all affected by these laws. But so are women. All of these groups tend to vote more Democratic than men - who rarely change their names and are less likely to be affected at the polls by a registration vs. ID conflict.


So what does this matter? According to a poll by Marie Claire Magazine, 41 percent of women took or want to take their spouse's name, 32 percent of women want to keep their name, 14 percent of women plan to use their name professionally but take their spouse's name personally, 11 percent like hypenation and 1 percent want their spouse to take their name, while another 1 percent plan to take or have taken a mutually agreed upon or created last name. All but one of these options - the most traditional form of a woman taking her spouse's last name - could pose problems at the polls.

We spoke to our readers to get their feedback. Reader Betty, from Ohio, who took her husband's last name, never had a problem. She lives in Ohio, one of the states that requires some form of ID (but not necessarily a government issued photo ID). Jamie, from New York, took her husband's last name also, but was worried. New York does not request or require any form of ID in order to vote (Hear that, Jamie? You're good to go! Unless, of course, you move.) Suzie from Pennsylvania has had a lot of problems. Although she kept her last name, Suzie moved recently and didn't see the point in spending money on updating her ID to reflect her new street address since she lives in the same town.

Unfortunately for Suzie, Pennsylvania is one of the states that requires a government issued photo ID in order to vote. This past election season, Suzie was turned away from the polls. "I still haven't updated my ID," she says. "I don't think it's fair that I should have to pay $30+ just because some dumbass at a clerical office needs to see it on plastic. I can show a utility bill anywhere else to prove my change in address. Why can't I do that at the polls? What? Are that many people paying other peoples' electric bills? I don't think so." Clearly Suzie was not amused.


And then we've got the whopping issue of same sex marriage. Couples who get married in other states, where gay marriage is legal, may have trouble changing their names and information in their home states (where gay marriage may or may not be legal). Not only is this a headache and a half, but it can be costly and time-consuming when it comes to updating IDs. And we all know how the Republican Party (not necessarily its constitutents, but the party itself) feels about gay marriage...



So tell us, ladies...What are your thoughts on voting laws? Do they unfairly effect women? Have you ever had trouble at the polls? Is requiring ID to vote even constitutional? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. We want to hear from YOU. 

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Caitlin Seida has been writing since 2006, with her work appearing on various websites including Livestrong.com, TypeF.com, Salon.com, Dogster.com and The Daily Puppy. A Jill-of-All-Trades, she splits her workday as a writer, humane society advocate and on-call vet tech. What little free time she has goes into pinup modeling, advocating for self-acceptance, knitting and trying to maintain her haunted house (really!). You can find her on Facebook, on Twitter, and of course here on I Feel Delicious!


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