There are currently 10 states with very strict Photo ID Laws. These laws disproportionately affect the trans* community and this year more than 24,000 trans* people in those 10 states could be disenfranchised and unable to vote this Election Day.
Even here in Massachusetts, where there are not strict Photo ID laws, trans* people face significant barriers and obstacles to exercising their right to vote. This can come in the form of uninformed poll workers wrongly rejecting ID documents on Election Day or even just in the barriers to acquiring or updating these ID documents in the first place.
These are a few of the reasons it’s so important to make sure everyone gets out and votes so that our voices can be heard and we can change these policies and laws. Don’t let documentation or uninformed poll workers stop you from voting!
We have provided a guide for voting while trans* in Massachusetts and elsewhere which includes various links with information and resources to aid you in preparing to vote this year. This guide will help provide the knowledge and resources to prevent disenfranchisement of our community and for you to exercise your right to vote without stress or complication. Be prepared and defend your right to vote!
What You Can Do:
If you’re trans*, here’s some steps you can take to be prepared and protect your right to vote. The following link provides a helpful checklist of things to do both before, and on, election day. It also provides a helpful explanatory document that you can print and bring with you to show poll workers on Election Day. It explains how poll workers cannot discriminate against trans* voters.
Checklist and Explanatory Document: http://equalityfederation.org/sites/default/files/VotingWhileTrans_ChecklistFinal.pdf
Voting in Massachusetts:
Massachusetts is one of the states that does not require a photo ID. However, trans* voters may still face discrimination at their voting location on election day if their ID documents are perceived by the poll worker not to match their appearance. This kind of discrimination is illegal.
If you are told you cannot vote on Election Day, call the Nationwide Election Protection Hotline at
1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) for help.
Register to Vote
In order to check or update your voter registration in Massachusetts, visit the following pages.
Registration Status: http://www.sec.state.ma.us/VoterRegistrationSearch/MyVoterRegStatus.aspx
Registration Information: http://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/eleifv/howreg.htm
The ID document(s) you provide on Election Day must match the name and address that you provide for voter registration.
Massachusetts ID Documents
If you were born in Massachusetts, or are a current resident, and you wish to acquire or update ID documents, MTPC has helpful guides on how to acquire ID documents and how to change one’s name or gender marker on each of the various documents. MTPC’s guides can be found here:
Legal Name Change: http://www.masstpc.org/get-help/name-change/
Gender Marker Change: http://www.masstpc.org/get-help/gender-marker-change/
Voting early or by absentee ballot can ensure that any questions about ID documents get sorted out ahead of time so that your vote gets counted. It can also help avoid possible discriminatory interactions with poll workers at the voting place on Election Day. Massachusetts doesn’t currently allow Early Voting. This will be available to voters beginning in 2016. Massachusetts also has the option of Excused-Only Absentee Voting. For information on who is eligible for Absentee Voting in Massachusetts, see the following page:
Why You Should Care About Voting:
Voting is an important way to have your voice heard on issues that you care about or that affect you. Trans* people’s voices often go unheard in government and policy and yet it’s vital that they get heard because there are so many different policies and laws that affect the trans* community. Below is a link to a list of some of the challenges currently facing the trans*community. There are many challenges and many reasons to vote, these are just some important examples.
Challenges Facing the Trans* Community: http://equalityfederation.org/sites/default/files/Why%20Transgender%20People%20Should%20Care%20About%20Voting.pdf
Voting-Specific Challenges for the Trans* Community: http://equalityfederation.org/sites/default/files/Why%20Its%20Important%20for%20Transgender%20Voters%20to%20Update%20Voter%20IDs%20before%20voting.pdf
Voter ID Policies by State
If you are registered to vote in a state other than Massachusetts, be sure to check your state’s Voter ID law. Below is a link to the Voter ID Policies by state.
Voter Registration by State
Check or update your voter registration here. You can find your state in the drop down list.
Early/Absentee Voting Policies by State
If you are registered to vote in a state other than Massachusetts, be sure to check your state’s Early Voting or Absentee Voting policies. Voting early or by absentee ballot can ensure that any questions about ID documents get sorted out ahead of time so that your vote gets counted. It can also help avoid possible discriminatory interactions with poll workers at the voting place on Election Day. Below are two links to Early/Absentee Voting Policies by state.
Model Policy for States with Voter ID Requirements
The following is a document outlining a model policy for training poll workers to be respectful of trans* voters and not to discriminate against them because of ID documents.
Other Resources about Voting while Trans*
The following links provide more information and resources about voting while trans*
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and Equality Federation’s Webinar Slides: http://equalityfederation.org/sites/default/files/Transgender%20Voter%20ID%20Webinar%20FINAL.pdf
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and Equality Federation’s Webinar Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omHIDjwiBLY
ID Document Changes by State
If you were born, or currently live, in a state other than Massachusetts, you might need to change ID documents with that state. The procedure for changing ID documents varies greatly across states. Below is a link to various policies on changing documents by state.