A report has raised concerns that that strict photo ID requirements could leave 24,000 transgender people unable to vote in November’s midterm elections.
The study, conducted on behalf of the Williams Institute at UCLA, warns that the rules – which are in place in 10 states – could leave trans people who do not match their photo or legal gender unable to vote.
It warns: “In the November 2014 General election, strict photo ID laws may create substantial barriers to voting and possible disenfranchisement for over 25,000 transgender people in ten states.”
According to the report, out of 84,000 eligible transgender voters in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin, around 27% do not have valid photo identification that reflect their gender and name.
Those who are already less likely to vote due to existing challenges – including trans people of colour, students and people with low incomes and with disabilities – are likely to be disproportionately affected, as they are more likely to not have correct photo ID.
Requirements for updating state-issued IDs vary widely by state and can be difficult and costly, making it even harder for transgender people to update their ID to the necessitated requirements.
Author of the report Jody L. Herman said: “As lawmakers consider enacting stricter voter ID laws and contemplate their potential impact in the upcoming November elections, the consequences of these laws for transgender voters should not be overlooked.”
Advocates of the law argue the strict requirements are in place in order to reduce fraud, but law professor Justin Levitt of Loyola Law school could identify just 31 credible cases of voter fraud that could be prevented under the law.
Professor Levitt said: “This sort of misdirection is pretty common, actually. Election fraud happens. But ID laws are not aimed at the fraud you’ll actually hear about.
“We also find that voters who were subject to stricter identification requirements believe fraud is just as widespread ,as do voters subject to less restrictive identification requirements.”