Transgender Voting Rights
Hoosiers already face barriers to voting, from antiquated deadlines to strict photo ID requirements that are insurmountable for many. And one requirement hits transgender Hoosiers particularly hard—the identity requirement.
Whether it’s identity documents or poll workers that impose barriers to your right to vote, the stakes are too high to sit this one out.
An estimated 18,223 eligible Hoosiers could face societal barriers to voting due to their transgender status on November 8, 2016. And it’s estimated that 5,600 voting age Hoosiers do not possess a photo ID with their correct gender. The Williams Institute has release a recent study with these statistics and more for each state.
Knowing your rights can help.
Your transgender identity is private, and poll workers do not have a right to inquire into your status or personal medical information.
The US Constitution protects the right to vote regardless of sex, which includes gender.
Voters should NEVER be turned away from the polls for identity issues.
Your gender identity and gender expression on election day need NOT match the gender marker or expression presented on your photo ID.
Indiana has a quirky photo ID requirement, designed to permit poll workers to verify identity. Transgender Hoosiers may encounter some unique situations when it comes to proving identity. For some it’s a legal name change, for others it’s the gender marker on the ID documents, and still for others it’s their gender expression (their outward appearance).
Below are some scenarios you might encounter with proposed resolutions and reference to state law where needed.
SCENARIO #1: You’ve updated your legal name or name & gender on your photo ID, but you have not updated your voter registration information.
In this case, the poll book will still contain your former name, and you will be required to provide that name to the poll clerk to enable them to locate you in the poll book. You will then proceed to update your name right on the poll book.
Indiana law permits voters to update their name on their voter registration record at any time up through and including election day. (Ind. Code 3-7-41-2(b) and (c)).
A voter may update their name on their voter registration record by checking the “Name Change” box on the poll book and printing their new name and then signing their new name. In counties using electronic poll books, the poll clerk will have a paper affidavit for voters to sign (VRG 4/12) to update their information to reflect their current legal name.
You will then be permitted to vote.
SCENARIO #2: Your voter registration record reflects your correct legal name, but your photo ID still contains your former name.
Despite the disparity in name on your photo ID and voter registration record, the poll clerk can use a variety of other options to validate your identity.
You can bring your court-ordered name change to prove the connection between your former and current and legal name.
This scenario is arguably trickier to navigate than the first. Other options might include signature comparison and verifying old registration records.
Ask to speak with the inspector, who has access to call both county and state officials for assistance in these situations.
The inspector is appointed to oversee each precinct and has additional training and access to resources for times just like this.
WHAT TO DO IF CHALLENGED:
Challenging a voter is a legal process, and you have certain rights guaranteed by state and federal law.
The challenger and voter will be presented with affidavits to fill out, and then the voter will be given a provisional ballot. 2016 Indiana Election Day Hanbook, pp 23-26.
Provisional ballots are not included in the preliminary election night results, but neither are all the overseas or military ballots. Election results are not finalized until 10 days after the election, and in that time, the county election board will conduct a public hearing. You’ll have a right to attend, testify and put on evidence to prove your identity.
NUMBERS TO CALL FOR HELP
Indiana Election Division: 317-232-393, ask to speak to legal counsel.
Indiana Democratic Party, Voter Protection: 317-231-7100
If the poll worker still doubts your identity, Indiana law does NOT permit them to turn you away!
Step out of line if needed, remain in the polling place, and call for help.