Voter ID May Affect Trans Citizens
BY Trudy Ring
June 23 2011 3:30 PM ET
As new requirements for voter identification are debated in state legislatures around the country, concerns are being raised that these requirements may discourage voting by certain groups of citizens — including transgender people.
Shula Asher Silberstein, a contributor to Gather.com, writes that a proposed Pennsylvania law requiring all voters to present a photo ID at their polling places could disenfranchise transgender people.
“Suppose a trans woman’s photo ID has a male name and photo on it or a trans man’s ID is that of a woman,” Silberstein writes. “Poll workers might question the person’s identity, drawing public attention to the voter’s identity as a trans individual. For this reason, many trans voters may choose to stay home out of fear of violence. Worse yet, statistics show that trans women of color are more likely to suffer violence than any other group, so the trans voters who do come out might be overwhelmingly white.”
Other activists have voiced concerns that voter ID laws may tend to depress turnout among racial minorities, the elderly, disabled people, and the youngest voters — all of whom, according to various studies, are less likely than the general population to have the type of identification required by such laws.
Voter ID laws, being considered in about 30 states, tend to be backed by conservatives, and some liberal politicians and activists say they are a means to reduce the number of likely Democratic voters. Some in Pennsylvania have called that state’s legislation “an unabashed political effort by Republicans to disenfranchise poor, elderly, and minority voters,” The Philadelphia Inquirer reports, while supporters of the bill say it is simply a means of keeping elections honest.
Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives is likely to vote on the bill any day, according to the Inquirer, and then it goes to the Senate. A similar bill passed in 2006 but then-governor Ed Rendell vetoed it; current governor Tom Corbett says he would sign the legislation.
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