COLUMN: Center Works to Get Out the LGBTQ+ Vote
1 in 5 LGBTQ people aren’t registered to vote
Did you know that 1 in 5 LGBTQ+ individuals are not registered to vote? Did you know that only two out of the four that are registered make it to the polls on Election Day (or vote absentee)?
That is a huge problem. LGBTQ+ folks’ livelihoods are left in the hands of elected officials every day. Back in June, U.S. Supreme Court ruled that workplace protections must extend to gender identity as a part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This is great; however, there is so much more work to be done.
The state of Wisconsin currently has no protections in housing, workplace, adoptions, or public accommodations for gender identity and expression. This means that folks who identify as transgender, queer, or nonbinary have no laws protecting them against discrimination.
We at the Chippewa Valley LGBTQ+ Community Center believe that is unacceptable. Those who are elected have a duty to protect all their constituents regardless of how they identify or who they are attracted to. That is why we are pushing voter registration and making sure that members of our community have all the information they need to either vote absentee or safely go to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
In-person voting can be anxiety-filled for transgender folks who may face discrimination or questioning from poll workers when presenting their required photo ID or registering in person.
Firstly, the center will be open to voter registration assistance on two more dates: Sept. 29 and Oct. 10 from noon to 4pm. Please bring your proof of address and photo ID to the center (505 S. Dewey St., Suite 204), and we will have several volunteers who are trained on how to help you properly register there. They can also help you request an absentee ballot, do witness signatures, and find your polling place. Face masks are required for center entry.
Secondly, we are pushing out as much information on voting as possible to our transgender members and supporters. In-person voting can be anxiety-filled for transgender folks who may face discrimination or questioning from poll workers when presenting their required photo ID or registering in person. It’s important to note that poll workers are not to look at a persons’ gender when presented with an ID. Even more importantly, your picture and name also do not have to be an exact match – only “reasonably similar.” We have resources on our website – cvlgbt.org – for those who have more questions or concerns regarding this manner.
Remember, if you have any issues at the polls or are turned away, call the voter protection hotline: 1-866-OUR-VOTE and report to your local elections officials.
Breana Stanley is president and Ron Bower is vice president of media for the Chippewa Valley LGBTQ+ Community Center. They also co-host the center’s podcast, Queer in the Valley.