SAN FRANCISCO — With 130 days until California’s Super Tuesday primary election, Secretary of State Alex Padilla will announce Friday afternoon at Equality California Institute’s annual Fair Share for Equality policy convening that he will partner with the civil rights organization to protect transgender and gender-nonconforming voters’ access to the ballot box and boost LGBTQ civic engagement in 2020. Equality California Institute is the educational arm of Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization.
Specifically, the partnership will include:
“Every eligible voter has a right to cast a ballot free from any unnecessary burdens or intimidation,” said Secretary of State Alex 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.”
The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law estimates approximately 0.76% of Californians — or 218,400 people — identify as transgender. Based on the overall numbers of eligible and registered California voters as of February 2019, that means there are likely at least 190,000 eligible voters and 150,000 registered voters statewide who identify as transgender.
“No one should be denied the right to vote because of their gender identity or expression — and there’s certainly too much at stake next year to let that happen in California,” said Equality California Institute Executive Director Rick Zbur. “While other states impose strict, unnecessary voter ID laws targeting people of color and the LGBTQ community, California is making sure every single eligible voter has a chance to cast a ballot. We’re grateful to Secretary Padilla for his leadership and partnership in the fight to protect access to the ballot box and advance LGBTQ civil rights.”
In most cases, California voters are not required to show identification to a poll worker before casting a ballot. Still, many transgender and gender-nonconforming 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 use. Additionally, Californians voting for the first time after registering to vote by mail, who did not provide a driver’s license number, state identification number or the last four digits of their social security number on their registration form, may be asked to show a form of identification when going to the polls. In these cases, voters’ names and gender markers on their form of identification may not appear to “match” their gender identity, expression or the name and pronouns that they use.
If all other legal requirements are met, a transgender or gender-nonconforming person is entitled to 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-nonconforming voters, tens of thousands of California voters could be at risk of being disenfranchised. The partnership announced Friday seeks to ensure that does not happen in the State of California.
Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization. We bring the voices of LGBTQ people and allies to institutions of power in California and across the United States, striving to create a world that is healthy, just, and fully equal for all LGBTQ people. We advance civil rights and social justice by inspiring, advocating and mobilizing through an inclusive movement that works tirelessly on behalf of those we serve. www.eqca.org