Transgender voter sues North Carolina, Mecklenburg election officials for questioning identity

Charlotte Observer,  February 12, 2020

"A transgender woman sued North Carolina and Mecklenburg County election officials Wednesday, claiming she was denied equal protection under state law and endured emotional stress when a Cornelius elections official questioned her identity last November.

The voter, identified as Jane Doe in the lawsuit, said a chief precinct judge demanded to see her identification, which state law doesn’t currently require for voting.

Doe says a lengthy debate ensued, drawing a crowd of onlookers, when she tried to vote from a curbside area for people with disabilities.

The Cornelius town hall precinct judge, the lawsuit states, said that identification was required 'because your face does not match your name.'

Jane Doe reluctantly provided her driver’s license, the complaint says, and was allowed to vote more than an hour after arriving at the site.

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North Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment requiring voter ID in 2018, making it effective this year. But in December a federal court blocked the measure from taking effect, at least for the March 3 primary election.

Transgender activists have said the law, if eventually upheld, will require training of poll workers. Many transgender and gender-nonconforming people are unable to afford legal name changes, including on driver’s licenses, which advocates say could fuel discrimination at the polls.

Faith Fox, the Charlotte lawyer who filed the complaint on behalf of Doe, said her client has identified as female since age 4 and has lived as a female since she was 14. She’s now 28 and is in the process of changing her name legally.

The driver’s license Doe presented to election officials last November has a photo of her, consistent with her female identity, Fox said, but the name on the ID is that of a male.

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Doe’s lawsuit says transgender voters are especially vulnerable to challenges of their identity 'as they are consistently and illegally denied the opportunity to have their appropriate sex or gender designation reflected on any birth certificate or drivers license documents.'"

 
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Hannah Piercey

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