Opinion: LGBTQ voting rights are on the ballot

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Illinois is one of many states where lawsuits are either happening or expected around the redistricting process. dark_blade/Adobe Stock

By rmaguire

LGBTQ rights are on the ballot, but many members of the community must overcome barriers to even getting access to a ballot.  

Access to the ballot is one of the essential pieces of a healthy democracy – and one of the most effective ways to enact change. When we vote for driven LGBTQ officials who will fight for our rights, positive things happen. Minds – and laws are changed. Our vote is powerful. No one should be denied their fundamental right to have a voice in this country because of who they are. 

Yet, more than a quarter of all trans people in the U.S. didn’t have an ID that correctly reflected their identity in 2020, which could make them ineligible to vote. These barriers are even greater for people of color. According to the Human Rights Campaign, more than 60% of all BIPOC trans people eligible to vote chose not to or were unable to because of ID issues. Altogether, 21% of LGBTQ+ people aren’t registered to vote compared to 17% of non-LGBTQ+ people. 

With states like Texas and Iowa continuing to pass stricter voting ID laws, these barriers will only grow. If you’re facing voting ID difficulties, visit #TransPeopleVote to check your state’s ID requirements and get assistance updating your ID. It’s important to remember that your ID does not need to match your presentation (here’s a one-pager you can take to the ballot box in case issues arise while voting). However, if you do would like to update your legal documents to match your gender presentation, TransLife’s ID Change Library is an amazing resource!  

Creating ID barriers makes it more difficult for everyone to vote – Which is why Megan Hunt, who would be the first out LGBTQ woman ever elected to the Nebraska Legislature, has spoken out against creating additional ID barriers. 

There are more than just physical barriers stopping our community from casting their vote. 16% of LGBTQ+ people chose not to vote for fear of discrimination in 2019. Uncomfortable polling places, unsafe environments and fear of being harassed can dissuade someone from making their voice heard.  

One solution to this problem is to expand mail-in voting. Mail-in voting removes the risk of facing discrimination at polling places or having to explain why your ID doesn’t match your gender identity.  

LGBTQ Victory Fund endorsed candidates Taylor Small, running for Vermont House of Representatives, and Danica Roem, who is running to be the first out transgender state senator ever elected in the south, have both sponsored and voted yes on bills expanding mail-in voting.  

Even as barriers persist, the LGBTQ vote is powerful. According to The Washington Post, the 2020 election might have had a very different outcome had it not been for LGBTQ voters. Your voice is powerful, and your vote is worth fighting for.  

The LGBTQ Victory Fund is a national organization dedicated to electing out LGBTQ people at all levels of office.

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