An insidious loophole in Texas election law, potentially allowing fraudulent voters to impersonate real, innocent voters, has been slammed shut. At last no more is the Reign of the Voter Impersonator Wives of Texas, characterized by their slithering into polling places using all manner of middle names to cheat the citizens of Texas out of a fair vote! Neutralizing this glaring threat to election integrity, a married woman using her maiden name as a middle name on her driver's license, and her given middle name on her voter registration card, will no longer be allowed to cast a ballot.
When I first heard that the new Texas voter ID requirements presented a snag to married women whose voter registration records did not reflect their married names, I thought it was an unfortunate and unnecessary but minor hurdle for women who had married recently, but had not yet changed the last name on their voter registration card to reflect their new last name. I figured that it would require the completion of a task by election day that was going to be attended to anyway.
Using my name as an example, I'll explain what I first understood to be the requirement of the new law. Before I was married, the name on my voter registration card, and on my driver's license and other documents, was Julie Ann Hammerstein. After I got married, I updated the name on my driver's license to reflect my new last name, Boler. In Texas, the proper form to use on the driver's license would then be be Julie Hammerstein Boler. If I had completed this change on my driver's license, but had neglected to update the last name on my voter registration records, my driver's license last name would not match my voter records last name, and I would be refused a ballot.
So I thought. Knowing that a few recently married women would probably arrive at the polls on election day not knowing about the new requirement, and not be allowed to vote; and knowing that refusing these women a ballot was a pointless exercise in the solving-a-nonexistent-problem phenomenon that is the trendy new strict voter ID requirement, I was a little chagrined. I hoped that word would get out in time for most newly-wedded women to complete their name change "to-do's" before election day. And I hoped that Texas precinct officials would have leave to verify new last names with a glance at other paperwork for those who hadn't been informed in time. After all, there isn't really a Voter Impersonator Wives threat.
I had the details of the requirement wrong, though. Using my name again, let's look at how it actually works. When I was married 28 years ago, I duly updated my voter registration information from Julie Ann Hammerstein, to Julie Ann Boler. I also updated my driver's licence to reflect my new last name, this time choosing to use a format required by law in some states - Julie Hammerstein Boler. (Married women who change their last names find that some legal documents require one version, some another, and some leave it up to the woman.) Under the new voter ID law in Texas, if I have complied with DMV law and used "Hammerstein" as my middle name on my driver's license, but on my voter registration card have used "Ann" because it was left up to me, I would be turned away from the polls. Same last name, different middle names, both legally correct. Same address of course; your address dictates your polling place. Disqualified from voting in this election.
And what does this rule protect against? Voter Impersonator Wives! Just think, people. Without this rule, this could happen in America, right under our noses: a woman who looks exactly like me, has the same address as me, and has the name Julie Ann Boler on her driver's license, could waltz into my polling place and vote fraudulently in my place.
I have to say, if there is a woman out there who could pull that off, she has earned my ballot. I would hand it over to her myself.
- Julie Boler