California Secretary of State Alex Padilla has announced a partnership with an LGBT group to train poll workers on how best to interact with transgendered voters.
The details are sketchy but it sounds like they’ll be instructed not to hassle transgender men and women if the name they present doesn’t match what’s on the rolls because their gender switched since registration.
“Every eligible voter has a right to cast a ballot free from any unnecessary burdens or intimidation,” said Padilla. “Elections officials have a duty to facilitate the participation of all eligible voters. By partnering with Equality California we can benefit from their expertise and experience to better train poll workers and ensure a welcoming voting environment for LGBTQ citizens. California is proud to be proactive in protecting the voting rights of LGBTQ voters and fostering an inclusive democracy.”
To that end, Padilla announced that the partnership would include the “development and distribution of training materials to county registrars that promote best practices for poll workers to engage with voters whose gender identity, expression or pronouns do not appear to match their name on the voter rolls.”
And also the production of materials that includes “brochures, posters and digital media to inform transgender and gender non-conforming voters of their rights.”
As well as a public relations campaign of “targeted nonpartisan ‘Get Out the Vote’ communications and 2020 census outreach efforts to increase civic participation within the LGBTQ community.”
All the efforts are intended to be put fully into place by the time of the California 2020 presidential primary of March 3.
This is a big effort for a small but loud group of voters. The Williams Institute of the UCLA School of Law estimates that .76% of Californians or 218,400 are transgender. That translates into 190,000 eligible voters and 150,000 registered who identify as transgendered.
According to Padilla’s office, “in most cases California voters are not required to show identification to a poll worker before casting a ballot” but the potential pitfall is that “many transgender and gender non-conforming voters may be registered and appear on the voter roll under a name that does not appear to ‘match’ their gender identity, expression or the name and pronouns that” they are currently using.
But identification is required for new voters who didn’t include a drivers license or state identification number, or last four digits of their social security number when they registered by mail.
So when asked their name, a transgender man or woman could give something different than what is on the rolls or the ID forms he or she has.
But that is not a reason a registrar should keep the person from voting, Padilla’s office says, because “if all other legal requirements are met, a transgender or gender non-conforming person is entitled to vote just like any other person, regardless of their gender identity or expression.”
“If poll workers aren’t given the tools and training that they need to respectfully engage with transgender and gender non-comforming voters, tens of thousands of California voters could be at risk of being disenfranchised.”
The partnership “seeks to ensure that does not happen in the State of California.”
Equality California spokesperson Samuel Garrett-Pate told the California Globe that the purpose of the partnership is “to make sure that every eligible voter in the state of California has the opportunity to cast a ballot. We’re trying to make sure poll workers have the tools and training they need to treat transgender voters the same way they treat every other voter — with respect — and make sure no eligible voter is disenfranchised.”