Coverage of Voter Disenfranchisement Alludes to Transgender Voters

Voter disenfranchisement has been a hot topic in media coverage since the 2000 presidential elections. After media investigations into disenfranchisement in 2000 and 2004, the issue has come into the spotlight again as Election Day draws near.

One group of people often left out of discussions on disenfranchisement are transgender voters.  Since the emergence of this issue in 2000 no major news outlet has covered the ways in which transgender voters can be discriminated against due to issues of “mismatch” identifications or anti-transgender attitudes. These concerns are amplified by the fact that transgender voters are not covered under a federal non-discrimination act.

However, a recent CNN article on voter issues alluded to the issues that face transgender voters. The article followed a young Georgian voter who was “‘flagged’ because of a computer mismatch in their personal identification information. Experts say lists of people with mismatches are often systematically cut, or ‘purged,’ from voter rolls. It’s a scenario that’s being repeated all across the country.”

The LA Times also alluded to potential transgender disenfranchisement in a comprehensive state-by-state review of issues facing voters across the nation. According to the report, voters in Florida and Ohio are at risk of not voting due to “registration data [that doesn't] match other records.” Over 10,000 voters in Florida and over 200,000 voters in Ohio have been flagged due to “identity checks”.

“Personal identification” and “identity checks” can include things such as name changes or changes in sex idenfication on ID cards, issues commonly facing transgender voters at the poll according to a 2008 guide to voting created by the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE). The guide lists three other major areas affecting transgender voters.

“Transgender voters may have a photo ID that no longer matches their gender expression. If asked for multiple IDs transgender voters may have IDs with conflicting information that might hinder their voting process. Fear of discrimination may also keep transgender voters from the polls.”

Disenfranchisement of transgender voters has become such an issue that national organizations such as NCTE and the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fundcreated guidelines for transgender voters.

On Election Day, the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, as well as LGBT organizations across the nation, will have hotlines to respond to callers who experience discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression at the polls.  From their website:

From 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST, we’ll have lawyers staffing our hotline to respond to callers who experience discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression at the polls.

If you experience discrimination at your polling place, call our hotline at (646) 862-9396.

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