According to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) as many as 25,000 transgender U.S. citizens face the possibility of being denied their right to vote thanks to voter ID laws. In Louisiana, voter ID laws could stop as much as 58 percent of Louisiana’s transgender population could have difficulties voting.
Voter ID laws have always been a hurdle for trans voters, but the COVID-19 pandemic has added new layers of complication. With agencies closed or by appointment only, updating identification documents in order to finish a legal name change may have become impossible. Many nonbinary and transgender voters may have a gender presentation that doesn’t match what it says on their legal ID – but that shouldn’t stop them from voting.
In order to help transgender Louisianans navigate the polls, the Louisiana ACLU has worked with Louisiana Trans Advocates to create a guide to navigating the polls, as well as an informational sheet for voters to hand to poll commissioners who question the validity of their identification at the polls.
To ensure a smooth in-person voting experience, the ACLU recommends that voters bring any proof of legal name change in addition to their ID to the polls if they haven’t had a chance to update their voter registration. In Louisiana, voters can use a driver’s license, state special identification card, LA Wallet, or a U.S. military ID in order to vote.
The ACLU also states that if a poll worker insists a voter doesn’t look like the photo on their identification, voters should remind them that people’s appearances often change over time. A change in clothing style, hairstyle, or makeup is not a valid reason for anyone to deny a citizen’s right to vote. It may be necessary to reach out to the election protection monitor at the polling place.
Finally, if any trans person is denied their right to vote in person, they should request a provisional ballot. In order for the ballot to be valid, it is important that voters complete the affidavit on the ballot envelope. Once they’ve done so and voted their ballot, they should seal the envelope and return it to their election commissioner. An online tracking system has been set up here in order for them to track whether their ballot was counted.
You can view the full Louisiana ACLU voter’s guide and download the information for poll commissioners flier here.