Voter ID Laws Could Disenfranchise 25,000 Transgender Americans
It’s not just racial minorities who stand to be deprived of their voting rights because of voter ID laws. According to a new study from the Williams Institute, more than 25,000 transgender voters could also be disenfranchised in the upcoming November elections as a result of such laws.
Currently, nine states– Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin– have passed such laws which require voters to show government-issued identification before casting ballots.
But many transgender citizens do not have IDs that list their correct gender.
“Transgender people who have transitioned face unique hurdles when acquiring or updating identification that would fulfill voter ID requirements because they must comply with the requirements for updating the name and gender on their state-issued or federally-issued IDs and records,” Dr. Jody L. Herman, author of the study, wrote. “Requirements for updating state-issued IDs vary widely by state and can be difficult and costly. Federal requirements also vary by agency.”
The Raw Story reports that the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS) found that 40% of transgender citizens who have undergone sexual reassignment surgery have reported that they do not have an updated drivers license reflecting their correct gender. Fully 74% did not have updated passports.
Additionally, 40% of transgender Americans reported being harassed after showing IDs with did not properly depict their gender.
“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,” Dr. Herman wrote.
Voter ID laws potentially disenfranchise racial minorities, the elderly, the poor, students and Americans with disabilities. Such laws are nearly always supported by Republicans, who deny that they disenfranchise anyone, and target those who tend to vote for Democrats or progressive candidates.
Many conservatives claim that voter ID laws are needed to prevent voter fraud. But there is scant evidence of such fraud; out of 300 million votes cast in the period 2002-2007, only 86 people were convicted by federal prosecutors of fraud. A 2007 Wisconsin study found that only 0.0007% of local voters committed fraud.
The true intentions of many Republicans can be discerned from the musings of conservative commentators like columnist Matthew Vadum, who wrote that registering the poor to vote is “un-American” and “like handing out burglary tools to criminals.” Paul Weyrich, co-founder of the influential Heritage Foundation, declared: “I don’t want everybody to vote.”
Even some Republican politicians openly admit why they don’t want certain groups of Americans voting. William O’Brien, Speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, said this about students: “Election Day registration leads to the kids coming out of the schools and basically doing what I did when I was a kid, which is voting as a liberal. That’s what kids do — they don’t have life experience, and they just vote their feelings.”
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