Strict voter ID laws may present a barrier to voting for transgender people who do not have identification reflecting their correct gender.
An estimated 137,000 transgender people who have transitioned will be eligible to vote in the November 2018 election in states with strict voter ID laws, but an estimated 57%—approximately 78,000—of them may not have identification or documentation that accurately reflects their gender.
Eight states—Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin—currently have strict voter ID laws that require voters provide a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, U.S. passport or military ID, in order to vote at the polls. In states with strict photo ID laws, government election officials and poll workers decide whether a voter’s identification accurately identifies the voter and matches the information listed in the voter registration rolls.
“Transgender people who have transitioned often face substantial challenges to obtaining accurate identification,” said lead author Jody L. Herman, public policy scholar at the Williams Institute. “Requirements for updating the name and gender on official IDs that could be used for voting vary widely by state and federal agency, and the process can be difficult and expensive.”
Transgender people of color, young adults, students, people with low incomes, and people with disabilities are likely overrepresented among the 78,000 voting-eligible transgender people who face barriers to voting and possible disenfranchisement in the November 2018 general election.
“Strict voter ID laws could deny thousands of citizens who would otherwise be eligible to vote an opportunity to participate in the democratic process and have their voices heard at the ballot box,” said Herman. “Lawmakers, election officials and government agencies must work to ensure that transgender people have equal access to vote.”