Study finds 378,000 transgender individuals lack ID to vote

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A recent study found that 378,000 transgender people may have problems casting a vote in the 2020 election because of incorrect photo identification.  

The study, conducted by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, found that this election cycle, there will be an estimated 965,000 transgender adults eligible to cast a ballot. However, approximately 42 percent of those eligible in 45 states will not have identification documents that accurately reflect their name or gender marker.  

The research states that often, a transgender individual will change their name, or identify with a gender that doesn’t correlate to the gender that was assigned with their sex at birth. Therefore, the information that is on all of their official documents is rendered incorrect.  

In addition, transgender people come across further challenges when they try to change their identification information to match their identity. 

“Transgender people often face substantial challenges to obtaining accurate identification,” said lead author Kathryn O’Neill, policy analyst at the Williams Institute. “The requirements for updating the name and gender on official IDs vary widely across states, and the process can be complex and costly.” 

When these individuals head to the polls, they are required to present a driver’s license, or the last four digits of their Social Security number on the registration form. If the voter does not have those verifiable identifications, they may also be required to present their photo identification the day of the election, according to the study.

Some of the states with the strictest voter ID laws will not permit someone to vote who does not have the correct forms of identification with consistent information. 

Approximately 81,000 transgender people could face disenfranchisement in states with strict voter ID laws, according to the study. 

The school of law identified eight states  — Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin — that have strict voter ID laws. All eight require that voters show a driver’s license, passport or military ID at the polls. Three of these states, Alabama, Tennessee and Virginia, will hold contests on Super Tuesday on March 3.

Jody L. Herman, a co-author of the study, said much of the time whether a person gets to vote is dependent on election officials. 

“When voting at the polls, election officials and poll workers are the ones who decide whether the voter in front of them is the person on the voter registration rolls,” she said.  

“Especially in states that require an ID to be shown, this could result in some transgender voters being disenfranchised,” she continued.

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