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Women May Have to Win Back the Right to Vote Less Than 100 Years After Gaining it

Women May Have to Win Back the Right to Vote Less Than 100 Years After Gaining it

Recently, we’ve noticed a growing trend in new ways of limiting the right to vote. From the pre-election voter purge in Virginia to the two tiered voting system being proposed in some Midwestern and Western states, the “right” to vote is becoming as hard to access as the “right” to an abortion. Perhaps that explains why the latest target for denying the right to vote is women voters themselves.

A new voter ID law in Texas is expected to be exceptionally difficult for the women of the state, as the only acceptable ID will be a valid photo ID with your legal name on it. As The New Civil Rights Movement points out, that is a requirement that would specifically make it harder for women to vote, since women tend to, for the most part, be the only ones who change their names during a marriage or a divorce.

“Women voters will have to show legal proof of a name change: a marriage license, a divorce decree, or court ordered change; and they have to be the original documents,” reports Jean Anne Esselink. “No photocopies allowed. This means thousands of women face the hassle of figuring out what they need and how to get it. Then they face at least a $20 fee, more if a woman doesn’t have the time to stand in line and wants it mailed. As a result, many women who are eligible to vote, won’t.”

Speaking from my own personal experience in changing my name after I got married eight years ago, it’s no simple endeavor. Copies of the marriage license have to be filed and certified, then a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles to fill out paperwork there, then the weeks to get that new ID in the mail. For a couple who has recently gotten married, often having just planned a major event months in the making, also perhaps taking time off from her job for the big day and, if lucky, a honeymoon, immediately changing all of her paperwork probably isn’t the highest of priorities, either.

Is it a minor burden, in comparison to some of the other roadblocks to voting that have been put into effect in the last few years? Sure. But like abortion restrictions, each voting restriction isn’t supposed to act as an immediate impediment on its own, but to slowly snowball until the point where only the people that they want to be able to easily access the voting booths are able to do so, and the rest will find voting to have too many hoops to get through.

It’s not a surprise that the voters that they do want to ensure are able to cast a ballot aren’t women, the elderly, the poor, and especially not people of color. In that respect, we are all in this together when it comes to defending the right to vote.

“[W]omen and people of color will not be denied once again. We must remember that ‘civil rights’ and ‘women’s rights’ are not separate and distinct, but actually overlap, intersect and intertwine,” writes Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority, and Barbara Arnwine, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in a joint article on MSNBC.com. “Women formed much of the backbone of the civil rights movement that helped to inspire and advance the women’s movement. As we remember our shared histories, we must turn these recent suppressive acts into effective, joint organizing tools for the women’s rights and civil rights movements.”

Women and people of color have already joined together in many states to fight back against restrictive, repressive laws trying to limit their ability to access contraception and abortion services. Now, we will do the same to keep our right to vote and to force those lawmakers who would pass these bills to take our votes seriously.

And while we are at it, let’s take the legacy of Susan B. Anthony back from the right as well.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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258 comments

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12:10PM PST on Nov 6, 2013

Wonder what they'll want to take away next...our breasts??

10:39AM PST on Nov 6, 2013

Deeply sinister. Women - don't change your names!

10:05AM PDT on Oct 30, 2013

We can expect to see more of these tactics as the Replubican party becomes increasingly marginalized due to American demographic changes. The Tea party keeps pushing the Republcans to the right and hence the Republicans cannot shift their platform and craft a message that resonates with most blacks, latinos or asians - the groups which comprise the fastest growing segment of the electorate. As a result, the Republicans best strategy is to prevent these folks and other progressive supporters from voting. Another tactic is try and rig the system by changing how electoral votes are assigned in certain states. I am fascinated by the clever strategies employed by a party which is becoming less and less relevant in American national politics. I am also delighted that the Tea Party is forcing their hand. The harder the Tea Party pushes, the less relevant the Republican party becomes.

7:49AM PDT on Oct 29, 2013

I'm married and I didn't change my name. For one thing, both my husband and I have P/K/A names (professionally known as). It is a hassle to change your name.

The kookoo righties won't try to take away women's actual right to vote - they know there would be such a backlash it would knock them halfway around the planet. Their goal is much more insidious - take away women's right to control birth control and child bearing, take away any assistance for low income women who are pregnant or for children living in poverty, screw up the education system (even more than it already is), and thus leave women scrambling to take care of their kids and limited opportunities for low income kids. The kids will grow up to be obedient slaves to the corporate masters who want cheap cheap labor. This is not just for single moms - keep in mind that a couple with both working minimum wage jobs, one full time and one part time, still only brings home about $400 or $450 a week. How can you pay for food, rent, medical expenses etc?

6:15AM PDT on Oct 29, 2013

David F...
"Your welcome"

My welcome what?

8:48PM PDT on Oct 28, 2013

Your welcome.

7:33PM PDT on Oct 28, 2013

This vexes me

7:29PM PDT on Oct 28, 2013

Thank you

8:39AM PDT on Oct 28, 2013

As usual, it is the women, children, elderly, and minorities who suffer from the selfish decisions made by rich, white, mostly male politicians.Why don't MEN have to jump through the same hoops as women just to vote? Why don't MEN have laws governing their sex organs as women do? The unfairness of it all just pisses me off. I am disgusted with this country, and see no particular reason to feel patriotic or to hang a flag or anything else.

8:23AM PDT on Oct 28, 2013

Thank You!

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches ancient Greek, Latin and Classics at Saint Peter's University in New Jersey.... more
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