According to The Washington Post the 2020 election could have been very different if the LGBTQ+ community had stayed home.
Even though we are making progress, there are still disparities. 21% LGBTQ+ people haven’t been registered to vote, whereas 17% of non LGBT+ people have.
Over 1,000,000 LGBTQ+ college student are found across America. These students can make a huge difference in a world where the highest office in America has been won by only 80,000 citizens in battleground states.
The midterm elections are coming up on November 8th and the LGBTQ+ vote will be more important than ever. Every day, laws that affect the community are passed and the community is ready for a fight. According to GLAAD, 83% of LGBTQ+ voters hope to vote in the 2022 midterm.
These students want to vote. What’s the problem?
Many transgender students face problems with their ID as stricter voting laws in states like Texas, Georgia, and Iowa are passed. More than a quarter transgender people in the country did not have an ID correctly reflecting their identity in 2020. This could render them ineligible for voting.
Students face additional barriers due to the high cost of changing IDs, particularly for low-income students. For marginalized groups, this barrier is even greater. The Human Rights Campaign shows that more than 60% of BIPOC transgender people who are eligible to vote opted not to do so or were unable due to ID issues.
Reddit user that I spoke with couldn’t modify his birth certificate. This meant that he couldn’t change his driver’s license. He fought all legal obstacles, but he was unable to vote for many years. These battles are worth fighting; he will vote for the first-time as himself in this midterm!
Transform the Vote
TRANSFORM THE VOTE
What can your campus accomplish?
- Students can access Transform the Vote’s #VotingWhileTrans checklist. This resource is free and guides trans students through how to register to vote using the correct ID. It also gives students tools for dealing with any problems at the poll box.
- VoteRiders provides state-bystate information about voter ID laws. Every state has its own requirements. Helping students to understand the requirements can make it easier for them to vote.
- If students choose to change their legal name/gender, they can get financial and legal assistance. It can be complicated and time-consuming to go through the legal process. This can be overcome by helping students to understand the steps and giving them the tools to do so. [
However, there are many other barriers that LGBTQ+ must overcome. In 2019, 16% of LGBTQ+ people voted not for fear of discrimination.
Students whose gender identity doesn’t match their ID or name may be reluctant to expose themselves to strangers in their community. Redditor explains how it felt to have to explain to poll workers why the legal name they gave wasn’t correct. I know no one was trying to cause me harm but it made voting difficult.
Redditors expressed concern about the polling stations in their districts, many of which are churches. One Redditor described feeling the need for poll workers to count their ballots because they were afraid it would be tossed away after getting dirty looks from churchgoers. One user described a feeling that was essentially the same: “It makes my heart sink and I don’t want it to happen.” It is, in my opinion, a form voter intimidation or manipulation.
What can your campus accomplish?
- Encourage students to vote on campus. Many students feel overwhelmed by work, family and internships. Even if you are afraid of discrimination, it can be difficult to even go to the polls. Colleges provide safe and accessible spaces for students to vote. To bring a voting location to your campus, check out MTV’s Voting Early Is Easy Toolkit.
- Encourage LGBTQ+ members to volunteer as poll workers. It can help ease concerns about discrimination and make LGBTQ+ students feel more at home when they see other members of their community at polling sites. Students can register to work as poll workers atPower the Polls
- Organise rides to the polls. Safety comes in numbers Safety is in numbers! Voting can be fun as a group activity. Students may feel more at ease asking their peers questions.
- Inform students about mail-in voting. Mail-in voting removes the person from the vote. Students are no longer required to identify themselves or fear discrimination. This makes it easier for students from other states to vote. Trans Redditor: “I don’t have any stories of voting discrimination–but this is likely due to my State doing mail-in voter! It’s been a great help in terms of accessibility, not having to worry too much about harassment, and even before I legally updated my documents. ALLINtoVote provides a free one-stop shop for voter engagement, where students can request their ballots by mail, if applicable.
- If someone is subject to harassment or discrimination at the polls, contact the Election Protection Hotline at (866-OUR-VOTE).
There should never be any reason why a person cannot exercise their right to vote. And no one should feel intimidated by the journey to the polls. Schools should and can do more to support LGBTQ+ students. The government should be determined “by the people”, not someof them.
The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge currently has 915 participating colleges and universities. Find out more about ALL In and make a donation to help us advance our work.