True the Vote, an anti-voter fraud group affiliated with the tea party movement, has been accused of training poll watchers to target transgender individuals.
“It is disgraceful that True the Vote would try to thug anyone into not voting. True the Vote’s true agenda is a shameful attempt to scare trans people away from participating in our democracy,” Mara Keisling of National Council for Transgender Equality said in a statement. “For trans people, voting is not just a right and a responsibility, for us it is also an important part of how we are winning our equality. Scare tactics like this won’t keep us from that.”
The cover of the “True the Vote Virginia Observer Training” manual depicts a hairy man wearing a dress. The message, “Prevent voter fraud,” appears directly above the cross-dressing man.
Left-leaning groups have accused True the Vote of seeking to intimidate Democratic voters.
The Justice Department investigated the poll watching program after receiving a number of complaints about voter intimidation in Hispanic and African-American areas around Houston in 2010. Poll watchers allegedly were hovering over voters and being confrontational with election workers. No charges were ever filed against the group.
True the Vote says its campaign is non-partisan, yet its website contains numerous missives attacking liberals, including statements such as “vote fraud is nearly an exclusive crime of the left” and claims that the left wants “to be able to steal elections at will.”
ProgressVA has complained that True the Vote’s election manual contains “numerous serious inaccuracies and misleading statements,” including erroneous information regarding the state’s voter ID laws, which were recently amended.
A study released by the Williams Institute earlier this year found that voter ID laws could disenfranchise transgender people on Election Day. Dr. Jody L. Herman, the author of the study, noted that transgender individuals “face unique hurdles when acquiring or updating identification that would fulfill voter ID requirements.” In addition, 40 percent of transgender individuals reported being harassed after presenting identification that didn’t accurately reflect their gender.
The National Center for Transgender Equality has launched the “Voting While Trans” website in hopes of preventing transgender voters from being disenfranchised.
[Image via Kenji-Baptiste OIKAWA, Creative Commons licensed]