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General News    H3'ed 5/4/10

Ohio Voting Practices Discriminate Against Women

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"The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."

Earlier this year, I was married, subsequently changed my name and moved. Shortly after our marriage and move, I registered with the Delaware County Board of Elections to update their information. Shortly thereafter, they sent me a card with my new name (Sherry L. Mann) and current address.

In getting ready to vote today, I would have thought that my updated voter's registration card (with embossed seal) along with my drivers license would have sufficed, but my husband is an attorney who specialized in election law at Ohio State University. He knew to bring other relevant documents, so in addition to my voter registration card and Ohio Driver's license we brought our electric bill (which would prove my current address) and our marriage license (to show my recent name change).

But there was a problem. Actually, according to the local board of elections, there were several.

  1. Although my electric bill proved my address, it was in the name of, "Sherry L. Clark" so "Sherry L. Mann" didn't have proof of where 'she' lived.
  2. My Ohio Driver's License had "Sherry L. Clark" with my former address on it.
  3. My marriage license showed that "Sherry L. Clark" got married to Jesse R. Mann, but evidently that was not sufficient proof for the poll's "presiding judge" that Sherry L. Clark was in fact, Sherry L. Mann.

After other presiding judges in the various precincts were consulted, I was informed that I would have to vote provisionally. I did not want to vote provisionally, so my husband, Jesse asked if that decision could be reviewed by the Delaware Board of Elections, so the presiding judge called them. The Board upheld their decision since, according to them, the State of Ohio did not recognize the marriage license when it came to elections...the same marriage license issued by the State of Ohio. Keep in mind, I could have voted absentee without any hassle, but since I followed the traditional course that most women in our country take and took my husband's last name, it would be up to me to prove that I was Sherry L. Mann.

Jesse and I went back home to find something that would allow me to vote. Oddly enough, it wasn't my social security card, my marriage license, my passport, my birth certificate, my Ohio Driver's license, my electric bill, or my health card ID that would prove who I was...it was a letter from my bank which happened to have our address with my new name. This letter had no special watermarks, seals or signatures. It could have easily been created on any home pc and printed off on any color printer. And do you know how the bank knew that I was Sherry L. Mann? They looked at my marriage license!

Current voting practices may be fair on their face, but for all those women who get married and take their husband's name, their effects are discriminatory.

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Sherry Clark is the founder and publisher of The Liberty Voice. The Liberty Voice is a fiercely independent newspaper (imagine opednews in print!) that has distributed a half million papers freely throughout Central Ohio.
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