Wisconsin voter ID may disenfranchise 1,000 transgender people

Analysis suggests more than 1,000 transgender voters in Wisconsin may not be able to cast ballots on Election Day this November.

Wisconsin is home to an estimated 8,000 transgender people eligible to vote, but more than 1,000 of them — about 15 percent — lack accurate IDs for voting, according to Jody L. Herman, a scholar at the Williams Institute think tank at the UCLA School of Law.

Herman is the author of a new study, “The Potential Impact of Voter Identification Laws on Transgender Voters in the 2016 General Election,” which examined the impact of voter IDs in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Herman concluded about 112,000 transgender people who have transitioned are eligible to vote in these states, but 34,000 of them may face barriers to voting due to strict ID laws.

“Lawmakers and election officials should not overlook the impact on transgender voters when enacting voting restrictions based on identity documents,” Herman said. “Voter ID laws impact many citizens who would otherwise be eligible to vote. Transgender people have unique and sometimes insurmountable burdens to obtaining accurate IDs for voting in states that require it.”

The study used data from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, which was conducted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Some findings:

• Thirty percent of the voting-eligible transgender population in eight states — Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin — have no identification or records that accurately reflect their gender.

• Transgender people of color, youth, students, people with low income, and people with disabilities are likely overrepresented among those who do not have an accurate ID for voting.

• In order for these 34,000 voting-eligible transgender people to obtain the accurate IDs for voting, they must comply with the state and federal requirements for updating IDs. These requirements vary widely by state or federal agency and can be difficult and costly to meet.

“Legislators, election officials, and poll workers should work to ensure equal access to the ballot for transgender voters, who have a disparate burden under voter ID laws,” Herman concluded.