The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law has released a new study, this time concerning the affects of Voter ID. The Potential Impact of Voter Identification Laws on Transgender Voters in 2014 General Election, written by Jody Herman, concludes that there could be over 24000 eligible transgender voters across ten states who will not be able to vote because of Voter ID laws.
The Institute finds that there are approximately 84000 eligible transgender voters in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin. All those states have photo voter ID laws except Wisconsin…which might have one come election time. The study estimates that 28% of those eligible voters do not have valid photo ID that reflects their gender and name sufficient to the standards of the laws.
Lawmakers should not overlook the consequences of enacting stricter voter ID laws on transgender voters. Election officials must consider the potential impact of these laws in the upcoming November elections. Voter ID laws create a unique barrier for transgender people who would otherwise be eligible to vote.
Especially affected would be transgender people of color, transfolk with low incomes, young transpeople and people with disabilities.
In other states and in these states before passage of the current laws, voters without photo ID were given other options to comply with the law.
Justin Levitt, a Loyola law professor, has identified 31 credible instances of in person voter fraud which might have been stymied by photo ID out of more than a billion ballots cast since 2000.
Election fraud happens. But ID laws are not aimed at the fraud you’ll actually hear about. Most current ID laws (Wisconsin is a rare exception) aren’t designed to stop fraud with absentee ballots (indeed, laws requiring ID at the polls push more people into the absentee system, where there are plenty of real dangers). Or vote buying. Or coercion. Or fake registration forms. Or voting from the wrong address. Or ballot box stuffing by officials in on the scam. In the 243-page document that Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel filed on Monday with evidence of allegedly illegal votes in the Mississippi Republican primary, there were no allegations of the kind of fraud that ID can stop.
A 2006 study found that about 11% of citizens do not have government issued photo ID. The rate for transgender people is higher because state and federal identification requirements involve costly and complicated additional barriers for us to legally change our name and gender marker.
When it comes time to vote, many of us will be at the mercy of the arbitration of individual poll workers. The National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that 41% of transgender people experienced being harassed upon presenting identification which did not match our gender…and 22% reported being denied equal treatment by government workers.
Based on Levitt’s investigation and many other reports, the new voter ID restrictions will have no impact or a very limited one on reducing instances of fraud, the stated goal. However, they will certainly affect the thousands of citizens in those states who don’t have proper photo IDs by discouraging them from trying to vote or getting their votes rejected at the polls.
Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, basically says transgender people won’t be oppressed because we are, you know, transgender.