Introduction and Summary
There are ten states that require voters to provide photo identification in order to vote at the polls and mandate that those who do not do so undertake additional steps to ensure their vote is counted. Transgender people who are residents of these states with strict photo identification requirements for voting may face unique challenges when voting at the polls. To ensure that they are able to vote at the polls, potential voters need to make sure that their appearance, photo ID, and voter registration information match.1 In examining the steps that a transgender individual would need to undertake, we find that:
- Transgender people who have transitioned to live in a gender different from their sex assigned at birth must go through additional steps and face additional costs compared to cisgender people (i.e., people who are not transgender) to meet these strict photo ID requirements.
- It can be difficult and costly for a transgender person to obtain photo ID that accurately reflects their gender and appearance after transition. These costs impose disparate burdens on transgender individuals who wish to vote in these states.
- Fees associated with updating these documents with a change of gender can range from $8 to $358. Court orders, proof of identity and citizenship, and documentation of medical treatment, among other documents, are also sometimes required to make these changes, and some states only allow individuals to update their IDs after receiving transition-related surgery, regardless of whether they need to undergo surgery as part of their transition.
In this report, we examine in detail the additional steps and costs that transgender people may encounter in order to vote at the polls in states with the strictest photo identification laws. We present the state of Kansas as a case study to describe the complex processes and associated costs of obtaining accurate photo ID for voting purposes and provide an analysis of associated costs for acceptable IDs in all the strictest photo ID states.