voting rights

Over 200,000 Trans People Could Face Voting Restrictions Because of State ID Laws

Transgender people often have to vote with IDs that don’t represent who they are or not vote at all while they navigate the complicated process to update their IDs.

Transgender people may face barriers to voting in dozens of states because of stricter voter ID laws and a simmering culture war, NBC News report.

Voter identification laws differ widely by state. The majority of them, 35 states, will require or request that voters show some kind of ID for the 2022 election, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Eight of those states have strict photo ID laws.

Voter ID laws can create problems for trans people in particular, who might change their names and gender presentations as part of their transitions, and updating their IDs would require them to also legally change their names and potentially their gender markers. 

Olivia Hunt, the policy director at the National Center for Transgender Equality, said some states make it difficult and prohibitively expensive to legally change one’s name and gender marker. In nearly all states, residents have to submit petitions to local courts for name changes (in Hawaii, a resident would submit an application to the lieutenant governor). Nine states also require residents to publish their name change announcements, often for three to four weeks, in local papers, according to the Movement Advancement Project, an LGBTQ think tank.

Trans people are also more likely to face harassment if they haven’t updated their IDs to reflect their gender identities and chosen names.

“We hear stories from voters after most elections that they were challenged at the polls because their driver’s license or other ID didn’t match their current appearance or that the name that was on it did not match in the poll worker’s mind the gender presentation that they had,” said Hunt.

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