So what makes a legal signature a legal signature, and a legal name a legal name?
My understanding is that my legal name is, for pretty much all intents and purposes, the name that I changed my name to on my social security card and drivers license after I got married. But it's not exactly that because it's really that I'm "using" my married name and didn't actually get a court order to actually change my name.
My understanding is that my legal signature is the consistant way in which I make the mark of my choice, and the only aspect of it that really matters is that I make it consistantly. The fact that I sign my name Mary Peter Middendorf rather than Jane Doe III (or a collection of uniteligable scribles scribbles with a unique shape, like most people) only matters because that's the consistant mark I choose to make.
But today when I went to vote they gave me a hard time. You see, on the voter registry, I am listed in print as "Middendorf, Mary E.P." (Mary Elizabeth Peter Middendorf wouldn't fit on my drivers license and I registered to vote by saying "yes" at the DMV when they asked me if I wanted to register to vote). However, as I said, I sign Mary Peter Middendorf. Well, the people at the polling place seriously hassled me about this, even though the signature for me that they had on file was exactly the same as the one I made. They did let me vote, but I had the impression that they felt like they were doing my a favor and they said my voter registration had to be updated so it matched my signature. WTF? Shouldn't my voter registration be under my, you know, normal legal name? And shouldn't I sign my normal legal signature? Don't they keep them both on file together for a reason? They also hassled Josh on this same issue--who ever had entered his name had him down as "Middendorf, Joshua G. Peter", and they hassled him for signing what looked to them like "John Middendorf" (but I'm sure matched his signature on file since his signature always looks like John Midden-scribble).
So would somebody like to explain to me either what my name is, or how I'm supposed to register to vote, or how I'm supposed to sign when I vote, or what a legal signature is, or what I should do to complain about having incompetant poll workers? Argh.
I'm seriously frustrated by this. Why didn't anyone ever tell me that having 4 names will cause endless headaches for the rest of your life because nobody else can handle it!? Argh.Edit: I called and reported it. Will anything come of it? Who knows. But it really is inappropriate for them to hassle people like this without a legitimate reason, even though they did eventually let us vote, and I feel better for having had my complaint noted and recorded. If anyone else had/has problems, the nation wide number is 866-OUR-VOTE. This hotline seems to be a joint effort by a number of organizations, including NAACP and People For the American Way, as part of their efforts to monitor the fairness of this election. I'm glad there are organizations out there doing this, and I'm glad Josh and I finally got off our lazy asses and made a donation to People For the American Way last night.