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Stuart v. Board of Supervisors of Elections

Court of Appeals of Maryland
295 A.2d 223 (1972)


Mary Emily Stuart (plaintiff) and Samuel Austell Jr. were married in Virginia and subsequently moved to Maryland. Pursuant to an antenuptial agreement that the parties signed, Stuart did not take Austell’s surname but rather continued to use her maiden name after the marriage. When Stuart registered to vote in Howard County, Maryland, Stuart disclosed that she consistently used her maiden name in all respects. Stuart’s subsequently issued voter registration identified Stuart by her maiden name. Several days later, however, the Board of Supervisors of Elections for Howard County (the Board) (defendant) notified Stuart that she was required to complete a request form to change her name under Maryland law, which provided that a woman’s legal surname became that of her husband’s upon marriage. Stuart did not complete the form, and her registration was cancelled. Stuart filed suit against the Board, alleging that she was lawfully permitted under Maryland law to register to vote using her maiden name. At an evidentiary hearing, Stuart testified that she routinely used her given name in all facets of her life. The Board provided some evidence that the practice of requiring the use of a husband’s surname was intended in part to prevent a woman from voting under her maiden name and under her husband’s surname. The trial court held for the Board. Stuart appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Murphy, C.J.)

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