Voter ID laws barriers to transgender citizens

WiG

Nine states’ voter ID laws may create substantial barriers to voting and possible disenfranchisement for more than 25,000 transgender voters this November, according to a new study.

The research comes from the California-based Williams Institute and was released at the organization’s 11th annual conference at the UCLA School of Law.

“As lawmakers consider enacting stricter voter ID laws and contemplate their potential impact in the upcoming November elections, the consequences of these laws for transgender voters should not be overlooked,” said researcher Jody L. Herman.

Strict photo ID states require citizens to present government-issued photo identification in order to vote. Without the required ID, eligible voters may vote on a provisional ballot and must provide an acceptable form of ID to election officials within a limited timeframe in order for their vote to count.

Transgender voters can face unique challenges to obtaining accurate government-issued identification. According to the Williams Institute report, 41 percent of transgender citizens who have transitioned reported not having an updated driver’s license and 74 percent did not have an updated U.S. passport.

Moreover, 27 percent of transgender citizens who have transitioned reported that they had no identity documents or records that list their current gender. People of color, youth, students, those with low incomes and respondents with disabilities are likely to be disproportionately impacted.

The 25,000 transgender voters who will face these barriers would have otherwise been eligible to vote in Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin. All of these states have passed strict photo ID laws for 2012 – though all face legal challenges.

“As election officials in these states begin planning for their fall elections, this research highlights the importance of educating poll workers in order to ensure that transgender voters in their states have fair access to the ballot,” said Herman.

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