To all married women voters

[Submitted to the Daily Local and Inquirer newspapers on September 12, 2012]

Dear Editor:

As the Chair of the West Chester Democratic Committee, I have written to you on many issues, usually along political lines. Today, however, I write on behalf of all women in Pennsylvania. It has come to my attention that the Voter ID law is going to have a profound effect on married women in this Commonwealth. If a young woman applied for and received her voter registration card when she turned 18 (or shortly thereafter), got married later, and changed her driver’s license to her married name, she will be unable to vote in this year’s election unless she changes her registration by October 9. Most women don’t think to change the name on their voter registration card, and until this law was passed, it didn’t matter anyway. Now, it is a problem.

My advice to all married women is this: first, check to see if the name on your voter registration is identical to the one on your driver’s license (or whatever ID you will be using at the polls). If the last names do not match, the remedy is fairly simple. Go to Voter Services on Westtown Road, contact your local Committee Person, or go to either party’s campaign office to obtain a new registration card. Fill out the name change section and submit it in person, or by mail to Voter Services (attn: Jim Forsythe). You should receive a new voter registration card in less than a week.

Women who show up to the polls with a driver’s license that doesn’t match the name on their registration will have to vote by provisional ballot. These ballots will not be counted unless they return after the election with the proper documentation. Almost no one will do this if the presidential race is already decided, which means their votes for congressional and state races will be thrown out. The race for the president may be definitive enough that those votes won’t make a difference in the results. However, the state House race in the 156th was won by a mere 28 votes in 2006 and by about 200 votes in 2010. Therefore, these local elections can and will be affected by this law.

I hope that women in Pennsylvania are informed and get their registrations changed by October 9. Our democracy is counting on it.

Stephanie Markstein
Chair, West Chester Democratic Committee