Stuart v. Board of Supervisors of Elections
266 Md. 440, 295 A.2d 223 (1972)

  • Mary and Samuel married. Mary decided to keep her last name (Samuel was ok with that). Later, she went to register to vote, but the Registrar would not accept her maiden name. She was told that if she didn’t legally change her name, she could not vote. Mary sued.
    • The Election Board argued that, “a woman’s legal surname becomes that of her husband upon marriage.” Therefore, Mary was trying to register to vote under something other than her legal name.
      • You can’t register to vote under a pseudonym.
    • The Election Board also argued that this prevented fraud, since it stopped married women from being able register twice (once under each name).
  • The Trial Court found for the Election Board. Mary appealed.
    • The Trial Court looked to the English common-law and found that women must legally change their name upon marriage.
    • The Court looked at the Statute (§3-13(a)(3)) and found that Mary can call herself whatever she wants, but in order to vote she must register under her ‘legal’ name.
  • The Maryland Supreme Court reversed.
    • The Maryland Supreme Court interpreted the Statute differently. They read it to require women “whose names have been changed by marriage” to register in their husband’s name. However, due to Mary and Samuel’s agreement, her name was not changed by marriage.
      • Basically, if a woman changes her name, then she has to register under the new name, but if she doesn’t, then she is not forced to.