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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 30, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 40
Strict voter ID laws may disenfranchise more than 34,000 Transgender voters in the 2016 November election
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Strict voter ID laws may disenfranchise more than 34,000 Transgender voters in the 2016 November election

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

According to a report by the Williams Institute, eight states' voter ID laws may create substantial barriers to voting and possible disenfranchisement for tens of thousands of Transgender voters this election.

In Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin, about 112,000 Transgender people who have transitioned are estimated to be eligible to vote - and 34,000 of them may face barriers to voting this November due to strict ID laws.

According to a new study entitled 'The Potential Impact of Voter Identification Laws on Transgender Voters in the 2016 General Election' authored by Williams Institute scholar Jody L. Herman, PhD, many Transgender people who have transitioned do not have identification that accurately reflects their correct gender.

'Lawmakers and election officials should not overlook the impact on transgender voters when enacting voting restrictions based on identity documents,' said Herman. '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.'

Key findings from the report include that 30% 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.

Also, 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.

According to the report, 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 said.

The study relies on data from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS), which was conducted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality.

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