Pre-judging Judges?

Nov 6th 2008

America elected a new president on Tuesday.  Perhaps you heard?  Obama's triumph was the world's huge news story, but across the country many thousands more candidates were voted in and out of local offices.  My ballot included a plethora of races for positions like Register of Probate and Regional Vocational School District.  I'm sure I'm not the only reasonably well-informed voter who sometimes stares down at a list of local candidates and thinks "Uh-oh. Some of these are just random names to me."

An election of random names. Interesting, eh?  For all of the attention that's been paid to Barack Hussein Obama's name, the fact is that a presidential candidate becomes so well known by the public that his name alone can't define him.  But in local elections, especially elections for large slates of jobs, a typical voter is often asked to chose among a group of people knowing little but their names.  If name-based discrimination really exists, could this be a place we'd spot it?

In fact, the Houston Chronicle thinks they might have spotted some.  An article in this morning's paper describes a curious electoral pattern in Harris County, Texas.  Harris County voters had over a hundred local races to decide, including 32 separate District Judge contests.  We can't expect a typical voter in that situation to be genuinely familiar with all of the hundreds of candidates.  So all many had to go on was name and party affiliation.  Not surprisingly, party affiliation dominated: a wave of straight-party Democratic voting swept most of the 32 District Judge races.  Most, but not all.  The Chronicle reports speculation that the four Democratic candidates who lost were brought down by their "unusual names."  They were:

Ashish Mahendru
Mekisha Murray
Andres Pereira
Goodwille Pierre

Judging by surnames like Murray and Pierre, we can safely assume they're talking about unusual first names.  And judging by the first name Andres, we can safely assume that "unusual" is a big, whopping euphemism.  (A look at the NameMapper will show you that the familiar Spanish name Andres has ranked among the top-100 names in Texas for years.)  So instead of "unusual," let's just be upfront and say "non-white."  Meanwhile the winning candidates in those contests were named Sharon, Mark, Patricia and Joseph.

Keep in mind that most of the judicial races were decided by just a few percentage points.  With only two factors to judge by, name and party, it's certainly conceivable that names could have influenced just enough voters to sway those races.  But before drawing any conclusions we should look at the full body of candidates running for all 32 jobs.  I've reviewed the full Harris County judicial election results; here are the names of the winning Democrats:

Al
Alexandra
Bert
David
Dion
Hazel
Herb
Jaclanel
Jim
Joe
Josefina
Kevin
Kyle
Larry
Leslie
Martin
Mary
Michael
Mike
Mike
R.K.
Randy
Ruben
Robert
Robert
Shawna
Steven
Terri

Of the 28, I see only three names that would typically be identified as non-white: Dion, Josefina, and Ruben.  That totals seven non-white given names out of 32 Democrats, with all four losers selected from those seven.  What are the chances that selection would happen randomly?  By my calculations, less than one chance in a thousand.

Of course, it's just one set of races in one county.  I don't pretend to know whether other issues affected those four candidates.  But if I were a scholarly researcher trying to isolate real-world effects of baby names, I'd be mighty tempted to take a broader look at "name-only" contests like these across America.

Comments

1
By Jay (not verified)
November 6, 2008 5:08 PM

Really interesting post. Myself and my husband are both immigrants, me from an "anglosphere" country and him from south asia. He feels quite strongly that any future kids should have a first name from my background, and perhaps even use my surname also, to avoid such nonsense. We shall see when the time comes, of course.

2
By Mouse (not verified)
November 6, 2008 5:25 PM

Was "Jaclanel" a typo? It seems like a nonstandard name to me. I don't think I'd necessarily call it "non-white," since I've never seen it before, but I don't know that I'd group it with Mike, Al, and Mary.

3
By GirlRandolph (not verified)
November 6, 2008 5:32 PM

I am so naming my kid 'Goodwille'. That's one awesome name. How can you not win with that name?

4
By Guest (not verified)
November 6, 2008 6:06 PM

My husband and I voted for someone named Neeraj Nagdim (which I don't think I've spelled properly). But that's only because my husband sounded him out on issues beforehand and we liked his stance. Otherwise, I have to say I'd probably have gone with the way more familiar Frank or Judy, simply because they're more comfortable. Definitely something to be more conscious of.

-- SaraJ

5
November 6, 2008 6:12 PM

I'm intrigued that the judicial candidates were identified by party. The judicial races here were non-partisan (at least this time around) and the candidates' names appeared on the back of the ballot. There was no way to know the party affiliation, so I would think the affect of an "unusual" name might be even more pronounced. I'll have to go to the Board of Elections website and check this out.

6
By Charles Kuffner (not verified)
November 6, 2008 6:17 PM

Was "Jaclanel" a typo?

No, it was not.

BTW and FWIW, Mekisha Murray is white. And Goodwille is actually his middle name, but it's what he goes by. Very cool guy.

I happen to be a friend of Ashish Mahendru's, and I hate to consider the implications of this.

7
By enterbrainment (not verified)
November 6, 2008 6:22 PM

it's pretty typical in the asian american community for kids to have an "american" (i.e. european american) name and a name from their family's country of origin. typically the euro name is official and what they use in school and in the community.

often there will be a personal process of "reclaiming" their asian name when they become adults, as part of claiming a more integral asian american identity.

also asian former english colonies (like hong kong) will often have a custom going back generations of giving children two names as well--one for official colonial use and one for the family and community.

in hong kong, because of the chinese obsession with puns (it's a feature of the language that puns are frequent) there's a tendency to try to make a child's english and chinese names match in both meaning and sound. this explains the prevalence of names like "winston" and "mabel" among immigrants from hong kong.

8
November 6, 2008 6:49 PM

I looked up the winners of the judicial races in North Carolina. I didn't finish going through the whole list because my pen ran out of ink (and I got bored!), but the results were interesting. I didn't detect any instances of prejudice based on names, but that is mostly because the names were so, well, whitebread. Tons of men named James, John, William, Robert, Mark, and Charles. The women's names were a little more interesting, ranging from Anna Elena to Jewel. What was interesting was how many races the women won, even when they were running against a male incumbent. I think that the League must have been out in force! Here are some of the more interesting matches (a parenthetical I designates the incumbent): (And again, I have no idea to which party these candidates belong, as the party affiliation is not listed on the NC ballots.)

James (I) defeats Jewel
Samuel (I) defeats Kristin
Cheri defeats Doug (I)
Clifton defeats Russell (Rusty)
Arnold defeats Jerry (sounds like they could have played football together in the 50s!)
Teresa defeats Franklin
Alonzo (I) defeats Betsy
Page defeats Glenn
S. Quon (I) defeats Amanda
Anna Elena defeats Mark
Laura (I) defeats Luis
Avery Michelle defeats A. Robinson (I)
Susan (I) defeats Tabatha
Betty defeats Chuck (love that one!)
Polly (I) defeats Barbara

I think it's a little hard to read racism into something like Laura defeating Luis since she was the incumbent and well could have a strong core of supporters. The incumbents automatically get the edge in the judicial races since most people don't pay much attention to them--but they might remember reading a judge's name in the newspaper and choose that candidate because the name sounds familiar.

9
By Judge Reinhold, FDD, BDL (not verified)
November 6, 2008 7:18 PM

There was a famous case of this in Los Angeles just a few years ago: a longtime respected judge named Dzintra Janavs was defeated by a businesswoman with a law degree, Lynn Olson, and the strong implication in most of the coverage was that the name contrast was a big factor:
http://www.metnews.com/articles/2006/judicialelections120_040606.htm

(Janavs was born in Latvia.)

10
By Aybee (not verified)
November 6, 2008 7:20 PM

This is the optimist in me hoping that the votes weren't based on race:

It is reasonable to consider, as Laura said, that the voters knew little to nothing about the candidates.

When I go to the track (very infrequently, read: 3 times in my life), since I know absolutely nothing about horse racing and don't read odds, I bet on horses whose names I like the best. Maybe that is all this was? (Think: Judy is running against Jaclanel. Judy is the name of my grandma, and that author I like, I'll vote for her!). Of course, as an NE, if I was voting on this basis my vote would probably go to Jaclanel.

I am also, of course, not equating political candidates with horses, just names with names.

This whole theory goes out the window for the people who voted straight Democrat with those four names excepted. Unfortunately, as Laura's odds suggested, race is probably a motivator here but I thought I'd offer an optimistic possibility.

11
By Megan W. (not verified)
November 6, 2008 8:19 PM

Well, I will admit that one of my first thoughts when I first heard of Barack Obama was something along the lines of "boy, it must be hard to get elected with a name that is so hard to remember...." (Ok, I was wrong!)

But I have to admit, as a teacher I wonder if I do this type of thing without realizing it. Do I call on John more than Jaclanel? I hope not. I do make an effort not to look at names at all when grading for just that type of reason.

My other election-name question: over lunch my colleagues and I were talking about lines at the polls. In my state, they divide the registered voter list into "A-L" and "M-Z". Each person reported long lines for the top half of the alphabet, and no lines for the bottom. Does this pan out with your experiences?

12
By J&H's mom (not verified)
November 6, 2008 8:25 PM

There have been a couple cases of this that I recall.
In one, a little known lawyer defeated a well regarded incumbent largely because his name was nearly the same as that of a popular congressman from a nearby district.
As I recall, a number of voters actually said they had confused the two, so there wasn't much question about what had happened.
Of course, this is more a case of familiarity giving one name a boost than prejudice affecting the other.
I've also noticed candidates trying to play off an attribute of their names. For example, our (former) land comissioner was a Southerland, and his signs had the land part of his ln highlighted.

Finally, if I can rant for a teensy second, I have to say that uniformed voting is a Huge pet peeve of mine.
I would never vote in a race if I didn't feel adequately informed about it, and I just think it's really darn lazy not to do a little research or at least read the voter's manual (no offense Laura and others-I was raised as a political junkie, so I probably have unrealistic expectations). End of rant.

New baby report: Helen Fletcher ln.
Mom and grandma are Helens; Mn is for grandpa.

13
By Paz (not verified)
November 6, 2008 8:35 PM

It doesn't surprise me. There was a study not that long ago which found that people with ethnic sounding first names are much less likely to get called back for an interview then people with more white names. I am currently job searching and using only my first initial on my resume for that reason. Also, when I do give them a full name, I'm dropping the y from my actual full name to make it more mature sounding.

14
By Yet Another Guest (not verified)
November 6, 2008 8:39 PM

J&H's mom, I was thinking the same thing. I'm not sure how it is in the states, but everywhere I've lived in Canada, if I don't know an issue on part of a ballot, I skip that question.

I'm sure I've said this before, but I really love the name Helen.

15
By JB
November 6, 2008 8:39 PM

Megan W:
Re: "In my state, they divide the registered voter list into "A-L" and "M-Z". Each person reported long lines for the top half of the alphabet, and no lines for the bottom. Does this pan out with your experiences?"

Yes, I live in a largely red county in New York State; when I was voting the lines were longer for the top of the alphabet.

16
November 6, 2008 8:50 PM

"I would never vote in a race if I didn't feel adequately informed about it, and I just think it's really darn lazy not to do a little research or at least read the voter's manual (no offense Laura and others-I was raised as a political junkie, so I probably have unrealistic expectations)."

No offense taken! In fact, I do read the voter's manuals, and I don't vote in any race I don't feel adequately informed about. But realistically, when there are literally HUNDREDS of names on a ballot, including dozens of candidates for the the same job (as in the Harris County case), the candidates are bound to blur in the minds of the overwhelming majority of voters...including me.

17
November 6, 2008 9:20 PM

Megan W: Yes, that happened at my polling place too. They ended up calling of M-Z to come up to the front of the line and the A-Ls were not happy. When I left they were playing with the formula (A-K, L-Z, etc.). My husband and I got in line together though and ultimately I (as a M-Z) only got out a little earlier than he (A-M) did.

18
By dee
November 6, 2008 9:35 PM

I worked at a local polling place (a LONG day in my county, as there are no shifts -- it's a 6am to 9pm day!). It was so much fun to read and pronounce dozens of names I'd never heard :)

I'd recommend the job of pollworker to NEs and voting enthusiasts the world over.

Oh, and I received a telephone reminder to vote the day before the election from a woman with my name (an uncommon name when I was born, though it's now increasing in popularity among little ones)! This is a name that I've encountered on grown women maybe a half dozen times in my whole life. It was an exciting coincidence for me.

19
November 6, 2008 9:45 PM

Correcting my previous muddle-headed comment on the A-L, M-Z problem: Based on the U.S. top 1000 surname distribution, the A-L surname group is about 10% bigger. Shifting the L's to the later group makes balance *slightly* more even, with 7% more now in group 2. And of course a given community may be quite different. (The polling place should clearly find the real midpoint and divide there!)

20
By NB (not verified)
November 6, 2008 9:55 PM

Megan W- I am a poll volunteer, and my job in this election was to be the "bouncer"- that is, monitor the flow of people into the room. We DEFINITELY experienced what you described. Our check in tables were divided by A-C, D-H, I-L, M-R, and S-Z. We were pulling I-L folks out of the back of the line, as there was literally NO wait for most of them most of the morning. However, at two different times, we had significant A-C and D-H back ups. M-R and S-Z generally moved at a constant pace, with no major backups.

As a former (maiden name) K and now a B, I was thinking all morning that I would have been really irked about changing my name if I had had to stand in the A-C line!

And more relevant to the original post: I once captained an ultimate frisbee team in a local league and had to draft my team. We captains knew many of the players, but of course there were plenty of "unknowns" who had to be drafted. My co-captain and I decided to draft a guy named SouSou solely because he had an interesting name, and we got quite lucky. SouSou was a great ultimate player!

Finally, several acquaintances born in the past couple of months include:

Rosalyn Anne
Virginia Kennedy (to be called Kennedy)
Cassidy Anne Miller
AND
Cassidy Ann Miller (what are the odds?? Both live in the area, but I know them from 2 totally separate spheres. . .)

21
November 6, 2008 10:58 PM

This post is fascinating. I may want to look into some of these name-only contests. One quick favor to ask--how?

22
By Erika (not verified)
November 6, 2008 11:14 PM

Link is to an article in Fox News regarding babies born on Tuesday named in honor of Obama.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,448324,00.html

23
By guest (not verified)
November 7, 2008 12:09 AM

I *tried* to research the judges that were running in my area. But it's nearly impossible to find out anything about them other than where they went to school.

Here, judges do not have political parties listed on the ballot. And they shouldn't, really. Because they should be decided cases based on law and precedent, not on political ideologies.

And you do know something beyond their name, you know if they are the incumbent. Here, all the incumbents were re-elected. I'm guessing that people figure that it's easy to go with the person who has been doing their job than someone who hasn't proven themselves.

24
By Guest (not verified)
November 7, 2008 12:21 AM

I'm genuinely surprised to learn that A-L last names are more common than M-Z. I have a S last name, and it seems like half the population does, too. But that could just be a perceptual error since I am possibly the world's most impatient person. I waited in line about 20 minutes to vote this time around, and it seemed like the other line was moving faster to me.

On topic, I must admit that I did not vote for a quorum court candidate based on the fact that her name was Candy. Candy does not sound professional to me at all. I am usually a pretty informed voter, but I couldn't care less about the quorum court. I'm not even sure what they do. J&H's mom can throw tomatoes now. Candy won without my vote though, she beat a Jim, so not sure the name bias was too terribly widespread. I think poor Jim was a victim of the tsunami.

25
By Amber S (not verified)
November 7, 2008 1:10 AM

I've often wondered about something similar to this.
I'm an auditor, and sometimes I have to select a certain number of employee records for testing. Usually if I find somone on the employee list with an unusual name or a name that sticks out, they will wind up in my selection pool. I've wondered if other auditors are also more likely to pick these same people too.
I put my theory to the (unscientific!) test this past summer. I was out at a repeat client with another girl I worked with. After she had made the selection of employees, just for fun I compared it with my selection from the prior year. Sure enough, the 2 selections of 25 employees had about 7 overlaps. And this company had a few hundred people to choose from- maybe even 1,000. The overlaps were all people with unusual names or who shared names with celebrities!

26
November 7, 2008 1:11 AM

You all have such interesting thoughts on this subject. You are truly a master Laura.

I used to be an S and am now an A. Our place divides into about 5 groups similar to what NB described. Where I grew up they did it by street name instead of last name.

I can admit to a certain name bias when voting and otherwise (used to be a daycare teacher). I am not registered with a particular party. When teaching, they were a few names we would call out very often during the day as these were the children who were, hmm, I will say "quite active". So upon having kids of my own I would often say "No, Christopher, Nicholas, or whomever because they were the active kids in school".

More on topic, there was a race between a Robert, Tom, and Berlie in a state office here. I was intrigued by the name Berlie so it made me read more about her and then once I knew some of her stands I voted for her. I felt like she deserved a chance as she is Libertarian. Tom ultimately won. Another race Lloyd beat Jose but there was LOTS of ads about that one. I'm sure that not everything that was said was true. Also, Eugene over Lon.

27
November 7, 2008 1:13 AM

Amber S-about sharing a celebrity name, I just watched a show tonight where a character was named Justine Stefani. I thought that interesting.

28
By AK (not verified)
November 7, 2008 2:20 AM

I now live in a small town, and I literally walked in with no wait to vote. It was beautiful. In the last election (before I moved), I had to wait over 2 hours.

29
November 7, 2008 2:29 AM

I have an A last name. Our lines were in 3 groups, but I don't remember what the exact groupings were. All I know is that when I walked in, there were 4-5 people in the other 2 lines, and my A line was empty. :D

30
November 7, 2008 12:38 PM

NB- 2 Cassidy Ann(e) Millers that really is Ethel Mae in a crazy way! Is Cassidy on the rise?

To the judicial races I agree with someone above (sorry forgot who) that there should definitely not be party affiliations for judges!!! That totally defeats the purpose of being impartial. Realistically everyone has their own opinions, but a judge should be encouraged to set those asides and use their judgement, the law and past decisions only! Grr, anyway sorry for the rant but that drives me nuts.

On the Jewel versus James race mentioned above I probably would have voted for James if I didn't know much about either of them. I don't know whether I'd have realized it either, but Jewel just doesn't sound as serious to me. Ditto on Candy as someone said above. Thus why many of us here I think push for names that have a weighty option just in case...

31
November 7, 2008 2:10 PM

People definitely analyze last names too. There is a local judge who ran with her Asian last name and lost. She ran again a couple of years later using her husband's white surname and she won. Sad really. In addition to the racism, the public essentially forced her to take her husband's name!

32
By Kelly (not verified)
November 7, 2008 2:20 PM

I am one of the voters who made choices in the Harris County contests in Houston on Tuesday, and Laura is right, to some extent. In Harris County, the Republicans have had a stranglehold on the judicial system for years, so it is remarkable that *any* Democratic candidate for judge would be elected at all. Texas is a red state, and unlike major metropolitan areas in other red states, Houston doesn't usually go blue.

As I was making my choices, I did, in fact, think about the names of the candidates and made *some* choices based on name alone. In the case of Mekisha Murray, I literally thought to myself, I don't like that name, and I voted for the other candidate. For most of the other contests, I voted Democratic, unless I had a positive association with the Republican candidate who was running.

For instance, Ashish Mahendru ran an ad right before the election that I really liked, and I wanted to vote for him (he was the Dem candidate) but I know the Republican candidate, Sharon, personally so I voted for her.

And I noticed Goodwille Pierre's name and thought it unusual, but I don't remember if I voted for him or not. Jaclanel was another name that jumped out at me.

I think Houston voters tend to be more traditional (read: conservative Republican) so traditional names would appeal to them. But maybe the trend is for more diversity in local elections, both among those who are running and those who are voting, so who knows how Houston might vote in the future?

33
By Davin HW (not verified)
November 7, 2008 2:27 PM

Geez, now I have to consider an unusual name's effect on my unborn child's judicial aspirations!? ;)
Thanks to everyone for all the great suggestions on the last thread! After discussion with my wife, I'm back with more thoughts.

First, my name does indeed rhyme with Gavin.
We like girl names that are a little more gender-neutral & not too "girly".
We like names with the "v" in the middle, but especially good ones that start with the "v" are definitely worthwhile. On a related note, does anyone know of a way to use the NameVoyager to search for "contains v" rather than "starts with v"?

Okay, so our current favs are:
BOY
Carver,Everett,Reeve,Kelvin,Ever,Even (mostly positive)
and (even more liked by me and/or wife)
Seaver,Taavi(as a NN for unknown full name),Alva,Haver,Van(again, as NN)

34
By Davin HW (not verified)
November 7, 2008 2:32 PM

Continued (work webfilter causing me to painfully do this on my phone)

GIRLS
Valor(yeah, it could be a lot for a boy to live up to), Ever,Verity,Olive

Thanks again, and please keep the ideas coming if inspiration strikes!

35
By JRE (not verified)
November 7, 2008 3:03 PM

Elizabeth T -

I lived in NC for years and was good friends with a female attorney who was very active and informed in the judicial elections. According to her, a decidingly female name was helpful in being elected. She called it the "Mom theory" - you hear/see a "Mom-ish" name and tend to think of her being firm, but fair.

36
By J&H's mom (not verified)
November 7, 2008 4:28 PM

Guest-I promise not to throw any kind of vegetables or fruits at you.
In the interests of full disclosure, I have to confess that our ballots are clearly less cluttered than some that others encounter. We also vote as permanent absentees (most of our state is all mail already), so I have lots of time to research. I have been able to find information about judges in a variety of sources-when all else fails I usually go with the endorsements from our local newspaper, as I respect their editorial board.
My main objection, though, was the idea of simply picking a name. I just think if you don't care or don't know, you shouldn't vote.

Davin-I love Taavi, which could be a nn for Tavis, which was suggested before. I also adore Everett, but I wonder if it's too common for your tastes.
I could be sold on Reeve, Kelvin, or Van. The others are just not my taste. I really think your little guy would get so tired of hearing, "Are you Ever going to get here?" and any number of similar, dopey things that I think would be irresistable with both Ever and Even.
I also thought I'd suggest Clive, Grover or Grove, or River. Riv would be a fun nn for River that seems similar to your style.

Of your girls' choices, Verity is one I'm forever suggesting, so I have to root for that one.
You could also do something like Valoria and use Valor as a nn.

Thanks so much for the update!

37
By C & C's Mom - and now B! (not verified)
November 7, 2008 5:31 PM

I posted this on the last thread, but just in case it was missed:

Don't forget Elvis as an unusual boy's name with a v that doesn't end in n!

I felt witty, so wanted to share it again.

other v names:

girl: Aviva, Geneva, Dove, Waverly, Raven
boy: Hargreave, Hoover, Neville, Oliver, Travis, Xavier

I also know a 30something woman named Tivey.

38
By sarah smile (not verified)
November 7, 2008 5:32 PM

Valor is a lot for a boy to live up to, but not for a girl?

39
By C & C's Mom - and now B! (not verified)
November 7, 2008 5:34 PM

on topic:

I have heard Barack Obama say in interviews that early on in his political career he was advised that he needed at least 1 common name. Yes to something like Barack SMith or Joe Obama, but definitely not 2 unusual names like Barack Obama!

40
By C & C's Mom - and now B! (not verified)
November 7, 2008 5:38 PM

Another on-topic post.

Several years ago (in NC) I remember voting in a judicial race in which one of the candidates was I. Beverly Lake. In my "new to NC" ignorance, I assumed that was a woman. He is not a woman.

41
By Rhanda (not verified)
November 7, 2008 6:01 PM

All whitebread names around here... though the town I work in did elect a Kim for mayor that is a man... not unheard of, certainly, but unusual ... over an incumbent David (although there is a lot of backstory there... it wasn't a surprising win.)

I am a little curious about elsewhere -- do "Republican" names show a lot of variance from "Democratic" names?

42
By J&H's mom (not verified)
November 7, 2008 6:21 PM

Oh, Waverly is one of my guilty pleasures.
How did I forget that one?!

Also wanted to add that Alva seems decidedly feminine to me, but you could do Alvin with a less expected nn, like Aldo or Vin.
Or does Alvin still read too Chipmunk to everyone?

43
By Rhanda (not verified)
November 7, 2008 6:39 PM

I can't really hear Alvin without thinking Allllll- viiiiiiiin!

So yes, to me anyway.

Other -v- names:

Evan -- can be gender-neutral
Neve
Haven
Hovah -- heard this on the wife of an ex-governor and thought it sounded quite distinguished. I like the silent "h" at the end. :D

Bevan -- knew a girl named this growing up

44
By Inbal (not verified)
November 7, 2008 6:48 PM

Paz, I have the same problem.
I have a very foreign sounding name (it's Israeli). To make matters worse, I'm a newlywed so I haven't quite found the strength needed to part with my maiden name as of yet, and have added on my husband's long Polish sounding last name at the end of my oh-so-foreign name to begin with.

I actually had someone in the advertising industry (where I'm job hunting) advise me earlier today to lose one of my last names in an attempt to make my name more approachable.

I see the point it in, but on the other hand, it's who I am.

45
By Rhanda (not verified)
November 7, 2008 6:52 PM

Celebrity birth:

Michelle Monaghan ("Gone Baby Gone," "Eagle Eye") and her husband, baby girl -- Willow Katherine.

46
By Guest (not verified)
November 7, 2008 8:32 PM

If anyone is still interested, I worked the polls at a precinct in Tennessee and the books were divided A-C, D-H, I-L, M-P, R-T and W-Z. We had 4 poll workers, so we looked at the sizes of the books to decide who would get two - A-C was by far the largest book, followed by the D-H book.

Does anyone collect data on last names?

47
By Alitalia (not verified)
November 7, 2008 9:18 PM

If you like Alva, but find it a bit too feminine for a boy, you could consider my grandfather's middle name, Alvis...

48
November 7, 2008 10:47 PM

This is an interesting phenomenon to me as judges do not run for office in my state. The only nonpartisan offices I had to vote for were for school committee and the names were Julie, Maryann, Debora, John and Stacey. The names did not affect my choice as I had met or knew of 4 out of 5. But I have found that the front half of the alphabet tends to have a bit more people. I am now an S but my maiden name started with Ma and in the classrooms where teachers sat us in alphabetical order, I would often be at the end of the middle row.

Davin - I like Van, Carver and Everett & Verity of the names you mentioned.

I also liked the suggestions of Clive and Waverly. I especially like Clive, J & H's mom - i doubt it will ever be really popular but Clive Owen has helped bring it into the light again. It has an understated manliness to it. I grew up on the Chronicles of Narnia and am thus a fan of Clive Staples Lewis.

Which brings me to a digression - has anyone ever met a Digory IRL?

49
November 8, 2008 12:43 AM

christinepearl-
Clive Cussler is one of my dad's favorite author's.

Davin-I am not a big fan of V's with the exception of Valerie. I gave some options on the previous thread if you didn't see them-Donovan was one of them. I also just thought of another Flavia. I don't know what the origin or meaning is but there is an author/artist by this name.

50
By Easternbetty (not verified)
November 8, 2008 1:48 AM

I had several judges and a justice on my ballot. I spent hours researching them--er, actually, like Guest, TRYING to. I even asked my lawyer friend to look up opinions from their courts on Lexis Nexis.

My effort was all in vain; there was virtually no information available in either public interet sources or lawyers' sites.

So, I left that part of the ballot blank.

But, in an interesting counterpoint to Laura's post:

We hadseveral local/county commissioner and chairperson positions up for grabs, and we didn't know the identities/policies behind any of the names (all of their websites were meager). My friend, who's of my same (non-Western) background, told me she voted for every name that seemed like it could be either non-Western or minority in origin (we had a Liu and a Spanish-language name on the ballot.) She also voted for clearly female names over the male ones (Sue, etc.)

I don't think that's the best way to elect people (I left it blank), but I wasn't about to lecture. Anyway, to my knowledge, our small southern county (very steeped in Southern tradition and old families of Anglo and Scottish heritage) did not elect any of the women or non-Western-named people, so others must not have been voting like her.