Strict ID Laws Could Disenfranchise 78,000 Transgender Voters

Oliver, now 22, headed to the polls for the very first time in 2014. The Maryland resident said he was excited to cast his ballot and perform his civic duty, but the excitement was short-lived.

Oliver, who identifies as trans masculine, said he was met with resistance when he presented his identification — which is required of some first-time voters in Maryland — to a poll worker in the “pretty liberal” suburb of Washington, D.C.

“This isn’t your ID,” the poll worker said, according to Oliver. “It has an ‘F’ on it.”

While Oliver, who requested his surname not be published because he’s not out as transgender to everyone, said most people perceived him as male at the time, he had only legally changed his name, not the gender marker on his identification, which he said is “a really expensive process.”

But despite this “misalignment,” as Oliver put it, having a gender presentation that matches the gender marker on an ID is not a legal requirement to vote in Maryland.

“I already knew I had the proper ID,” Oliver said. “They were looking for an excuse to turn me down,” he claimed, “but I had come prepared.”

Poll workers, he said, told him to “stand aside” while they considered whether he would be permitted to vote. After more than an hour, he was able to cast his ballot, but the experience, which he perceived as “complete bigotry,” was a “humiliating” one.

As a result of that first voting experience, Oliver has since decided to vote by absentee ballot. Going to the polls, he said, is simply too “anxiety-provoking.”

Obstacles similar to those that Oliver faced may not be uncommon for transgender voters — especially those who live in states with strict voter ID laws.

Less than 90 days ahead of the midterm elections, a new report from the Williams Institute, a think tank at UCLA School of Law, shines a spotlight on the “substantial barriers” that trans voters may face.

Currently, 34 states have laws that require voters to produce some form of ID to prove their identities at the polls.

In eight of these states — Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin — laws require a government-issued photo ID like a driver’s license or passport. According to the Williams Institute report, it is then up to poll workers to determine “whether a voter’s identification accurately identifies the voter and matches the information listed in the voter registration rolls.”

In these eight states alone, the Williams Institute estimates “about 78,000 voting-eligible transgender people may face substantial barriers to voting at the polls and possible disenfranchisement in the November 2018 general election.”

Via: NBC News

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