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Voter ID Law May Cause Problems for Women Using Maiden Names

The state's new voter ID law is meant to prevent voter fraud, but it may be causing some delays at your neighborhood polling place.

The state's new voter ID law is meant to prevent voter fraud, but it may be causing some delays at your neighborhood polling place, especially if the name on your driver's license differs from the name on your voter registration card, even a little bit.

Nueces County election officials say it is often a problem for women who use maiden names or hyphenated names.

The problem came to light Monday, when a local district judge had trouble casting a 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," 117th District Court Judge Sandra Watts said.

Watts has voted in every election for the last 49 years. The name on her driver's license has remained the same for 52 years, and the address on her voter registration card or driver's license hasn't changed in more than two decades. So imagine her surprise when she was told by voting officials that she would have to sign a "voters affidavit" affirming she was who she said she was.

"Someone looked at that and said, 'Well, they're not the same,'" Watts said.

The difference? On the driver's license, Judge Watts' maiden name is her middle name. On her voter registration, it's her actual middle name. That was enough under the new, more strict voter fraud law, to send up a red flag.

"This is the first time I have ever had a problem voting," Watts said.

Nueces County elections official Diana Barrera said to be prepared.

"Yes, it will impact the elections. It will slow the process down, I would imagine, because they will have to fill out a little bit more information on the provisional vote envelope, so it can affect it," Barrera said. "So it's real important to get the word out."

The alternative to signing a voter affidavit would have been to vote a provisional ballot. Many voters may not know that those ballots aren't counted until seven-10 days after an election, after voters verification of that voter's eligibility.

Judge Watts believes these extra measures to prevent voter fraud will be an even bigger issue in the more popular elections.

"I don't think most women know that this is going to create a problem," Watts said. That their maiden name is on their driver's license, which was mandated in 1964 when I got married, and this. And so why would I want to use a provisional ballot when I've been voting regular ballot for the last 49 years?"

While on the issue of voter fraud, 3News spoke with District Attorney Mark Skurka about the prevalence of the crime in Nueces County.

"I have never seen an issue of that in Nueces County, in all the years that I've been here," Skurka said.

If you believe you might have an issue with either your voter registration and or valid form of ID, check with your elections office.

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