Voter ID Laws Pose Unique Barriers and Possible Disenfranchisement for Over 25,000 Transgender Voters
LOS ANGELES – Nine states’ voter ID laws may create substantial barriers to voting and possible disenfranchisement for over 25,000 transgender voters this November, according to a new study released by the Williams Institute during 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 the study’s author, Jody L. Herman, Ph.D., Peter J. Cooper Public Policy Fellow.
Strict photo ID states require voters 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 who have transitioned from their assigned sex at birth to live full-time in a different gender face unique challenges to obtaining accurate government-issued identification. According to the new 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 the following nine states in the November 2012 general election: Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin. All of these states have passed strict photo ID laws and could have them in place for the November election.
“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.