Ensuring Voting Access for Transgender People

Transgender people are often discriminated against and/or denied the right to vote because of photo identification laws. Hawaii doesn’t require photo identification, but voters may nevertheless offer photo identification as proof of identity. It is estimated that some 25,000 transgender voters may be incorrectly denied the right to vote this November in states with strict photo identification requirements when poll workers mistakenly reject a voter because the voter’s appearance or gender marker on the ID is different than the poll worker might expect.

For many transgender people, acquiring photo or other identification that reflects a person’s preferred name and gender identity can be difficult or even impossible.  According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 40% of transgender people have been unable to acquire an updated state-issued driver’s license that reflects their current gender.  Further, 27% of transgender people overall report having no identification documents or records that list their correct gender.  Transgender people of color are even less likely to have an updated ID.

A transgender person in Hawaii may choose to offer photo identification as proof of identity when voting, but that photo ID may not have a gender marker or photo that a poll worker believes is consistent with the gender data on the voter registration record.  Because of the various different standards that government and other agencies have for updating gender markers and photos on IDs, a transgender person may have multiple IDs with seemingly conflicting information.  In fact, 80% of transgender people have been able to update only some of their IDs, but not all, and therefore will have ID with different information.  Transgender people may even bring multiple IDs to prove identity.


  • You have the right to vote even if you cannot provide photo identification or if you have multiple forms of ID with different gender designations. If you don’t have photo or other identification, you will be asked your birthday and residence address to corroborate the information provided in the poll book.
  • You have the right to be treated with respect and courtesy at the polling place by poll workers - NO questions about your gender expression, body, or medical treatment are ever appropriate. Remember, poll workers’ only job is to ensure that the person presenting themselves to vote is the registered voter in their records.
  • So long as you are properly registered to vote, you cannot be denied a ballot because the poll worker does not believe that your name, dress or appearance “match” the gender listed on your ID.

Remember, poll workers’ only job is to ensure that the person presenting themselves to vote is the registered voter in their records.

Vote to empower yourself, your family and your community. Vote so that the needs of your community are addressed by those in office. Vote because your voice is important and deserves to be heard.

Click here for more information about voting in the 2012 general election.


If you have any problems at the polling booth, ask to immediately speak with the Voting Assistance Official and/or the Precinct Chair.  If they refuse or are unable to assist you, ask that they contact the Office of Elections via the voting hotline.

You can also contact the ACLU of Hawaii at office@acluhawaii.org.