Texas disenfranchises women

Just when it seemed things couldn’t get worse for women in Texas, those in a position of power made yet another historic and unconstitutional decision. First they took away a woman’s right to control her own body. Now they have decided to take away a woman’s right to vote.

The controversial new voting law requires voters to present valid photo identification that reflects their legally recognized name. This creates an undue burden on women who have taken their husband’s name or who have divorced. It is estimated that 34% of women do not have uniformity across all of their identification (Brennan Center for Justice). A glaring example of the disenfranchisement caused by this requirement occurred this week, when Judge Sandra Watts tried to cast her ballot: “What I have used for voter registration and for identification for the last 52 years was not sufficient yesterday when I went to vote” (Raw Story). Because her maiden name was listed as her middle name on her driver’s license, and her middle name given at birth was listed on her voter registration, she was flagged as a possible fraudulent voter, even though she has presented this same identification in order to vote for years.

Natalie Smith of PolicyMic explains just how far reaching this new law could be: “If any voter is using name different than what appears on their birth certificate, the voter is required to show proof of name change by providing an original or certified copy of their marriage license, divorce decree, or court ordered name change. Photocopies aren’t accepted. Now ask a woman who’s been married for years where her original marriage certificate is. Ask a woman who’s been divorced — maybe more than once — where all the divorce decrees are. Ask elderly women where their original birth certificate is” (PolicyMic).

It seems awfully coincidental that this restrictive law has been added to the books soon after Wendy Davis, a thorn in the side of every Texas Republican, announced her decision to run for governor. Back in June, Senator Davis made an historic filibuster attempt to prevent a vote on severely restrictive abortion legislation. During her filibuster, she not only had to speak continuously, she had to speak on topic, unlike filibusters in the nation’s capital, where lawmakers can stand up and say anything at all for hours on end. While she didn’t quite make it to the midnight deadline, the crowd of supporters in the room helped prevent the vote from being accurately recorded on time, which essentially killed the bill. Unfortunately, Governor Perry then called an emergency session in order to get the bill reintroduced and passed.

Davis provides Texas women with hope, and she instills fear in the hearts of those currently holding positions of power. Therefore it makes perfect sense that Texas would implement a voting law that restricts the rights of women, minorities, and transgender voters–the voters who would likely cast their ballots for Davis. It is time to hold Texas accountable, not only for its misogyny, but for its numerous violations of the US Constitution.

Diane DeBella

As a writer, teacher, and speaker Diane has spent over twenty years examining women’s issues. She is the author of the collective memoir *I Am Subject: Sharing Our Truths to Reclaim Our Selves*, and editor of the anthology *I Am Subject Stories: Women Awakening*. As a long-time faculty member at the University of Colorado, she received the CU Women Who Make a Difference Award and the CU-LEAD Alliance Faculty Appreciation Award. Through her organization I Am Subject, Diane helps us understand how we—as women—are impacted by the society in which we live. By claiming ourselves as subjects of our own lives, we become empowered and also provide strong role models for other women and girls. In healing ourselves we help others—a beautiful way for women to create nurturing, supportive communities.

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