DES MOINES — One Iowa—the state’s leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy organization, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Iowa and League of Women Voters of Iowa have released a tip sheet for election workers at the polls detailing best practices for interacting with transgender and gender non-conforming voters. The ACLU of Iowa is distributing the document to Iowa county auditors on Wednesday, Sept. 28, one day before early voting begins in Iowa.
“Iowa county auditors are training poll workers across the state as we head into the early voting period,” Rita Bettis, ACLU of Iowa Interim Program Director and Legal Director, said. “As transgender Iowans make strides in advancing and protecting their civil rights and become more visible in our society, it’s important that poll workers are given the information they need to serve all Iowa voters in a respectful way. Both elections officials and voters should know that transgender Iowans are expressly protected from discrimination on the basis of their gender identity by the Iowa Civil Rights Act, including in voting.”
The one-page document includes definitions of “transgender” and “gender non-conforming”, ten best practices, and contact information for representatives of One Iowa and ACLU of Iowa for questions.
“Voting is a key component of civic engagement,” One Iowa Executive Director Donna Red Wing said. “It is how our voices are heard around important issues and elections. We expect poll workers to be educated and trained so that transgender persons are not disenfranchised because of administrative or other barriers at polling places.”
The organizations are distributing the tip sheet through social media and other channels to ensure transgender and gender non-conforming Iowans know to expect respectful treatment when exercising their right to vote.
I think it’s important that all poll workers be clear that trans and gender non-conforming Iowans will come to the polls knowing their rights as citizens and voters,” Renee Thomas, a transgender architect who reviewed the tip sheet, said. “A good interaction and a good experience are ensured when the ‘ground rules’ are clearly communicated and understood by all stakeholders.”