Preventing Issues With Voter Registration After A Marriage Name Change

Many people decide that when they get married they will take on the name of their spouse. Historically, many women have done this to take on their husband’s names. Although it is less common, any married individual can change their name to either spouse’s last name.

When paperwork for this change is not done quickly, and after marriage name change can conflict with certain legal procedures, such as registering to vote. Even when the bride is already registered to vote in their home state, county, or city, there can be complications if the individual enacts a name change without re-registering before the next election.

If a person does not notify the proper election officials about the name change, there could be issues verifying the person’s eligibility to vote. This is especially important on Election Day, when officials verify whether each person is registered to vote.

Although states govern over their voter registration laws, most states recognize that any name change requires re-registering of the person with the county. Depending on the local government, there may be re-registration forms online that can be filled out and given to the county clerk, or the forms can be filled out at the county clerk’s office.

These forms will require some basic information as if the person is registering for the first time. Common items needed include a state driver’s license, Social Security number, plus any particular item regarding proof of identity and residence the state or county wants from its voters.

For example, if Ms. Smith did become Mrs. Anderson, the Social Security account and the driver’s license must reflect this. Otherwise, the bride is going to the county clerk’s office registering as a completely different person.

Once the person gets all of their pertinent registration items up-to-date, then they can go to the county clerk’s offices with a filled-out registration form. Most registration forms will have options that give context to the registration. For example, the form might ask if the voter is re-registering and why.

In this case, the voter states that they had a marriage name change and will either sign a portion of the form or check a box that states “married/name change.” This connects Ms. Smith’s identity as a voter, especially their voting history and party affiliation, with that of Mrs. Anderson. Once the form is complete, the county clerk verifies the form, and the individual is now re-registered under their new name.