According to the Brennan Center for Justice approximately ten percent of voting-age Americans don’t have ID with both current name and address on it– requirements in states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania under new photo voter ID laws. A significant portion of those without that idea are women whose last names change with marriages and whose address my change due to separations, divorces or because they are leaving an abusive domestic relationship.
This reality dawned on voting rights advocate Faye Anderson when she faced the reality of not being able to vote now under Pennsylvania’s restrictive new voting laws. Anderson is a middle-aged New York transplant living in Philadelphia. She commuted up and down the East Coast and, like many New Yorkers, Anderson doesn’t drive so she doesn’t need a driver’s license. But if she wants to vote in her current home state, she needed something.
Anderson described the challenge to Colorlines as “disenfranchising by design to make voters jump through all these hoops,” said Anderson. “It’s unreasonable that women, with all that’s going on in their lives, will then have time to sit down and Google ‘where do I get my birth certificate,’ ‘where do I find my marriage certificate,’ ‘where to find the closest social security office,’ the hours they’re open, how to get there, and once there do they have all the documents they need.”
It’s a significant problem but one that won’t be resolved before the 2012 presidential election. So, instead of complaining about the problem, Anderson helped launch the Cost of Freedom web application which gives voters detailed information on where to find documents like birth and marriage certificates, where those offices are located, and how late they stay open.
This puts the War on Women in a whole new context: not only are Republicans advancing policies specifically targeting women’s ability to control their destinies, they are creating a regime that denies them a vote in the process.
Photo from Natalie Maynor via flickr.