Your Voice Matters
Transgender West Virginians deserve to exercise their right to vote just as much as their cisgender counterparts. Considering 1 in 5 LGBTQ people aren’t registered to vote, it’s important that our community knows how to vote safely. Transgender folks too often carry the brunt of discrimination and too often face barriers to vote. This guide was created to eliminate some of those barriers. Although it is focused on transgender West Virginians, cisgender people in the LGBTQ community will also find the information helpful.
Make Sure You’re Registered to Vote
The deadline to register to vote in West Virginia is Oct. 13. You can register in-person at your county clerk’s office, by mail, or you can register online here. If you’ve moved since you’ve registered to vote, you need to update your voter registration. If you have legally changed your name since you registered to vote, you need update your voter registration.
If you’re a student, you can decide to register to vote in the county where you go to school or the county you live at when you’re not at school. Choose to vote in the location that you consider your primary address, and update your voter registration to reflect that.
Plan How You’ll Vote
Once you’re registered to vote, decide how you will cast your vote. You can vote in three different ways:
1. Vote by mail with an absentee ballot. In order to vote by mail, you need to request an absentee ballot online here. Please note: unlike June’s primary election, not all registered voters will be sent an absentee ballot application. If you want to vote by mail using an absentee ballot, you need to request it. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 28.
The USPS suggests mailing absentee ballots back as early as possible, two weeks early if you can. If you’re worried about it arriving late, you can hand-deliver your ballot to your county clerk, but it must be delivered by Nov. 2.
Once you’ve mailed it back, check to see if your absentee ballot has been received here.
2. Vote early in-person. Early voting runs from Oct. 21 to Oct. 31. Early voting usually happens at your local county clerk’s office, or some other designated space. Early voting should occur during normal business hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. When voting early, remember that you will need to present an ID.
3. Vote in-person on Election Day. In-person voting on Election Day, Nov. 3, runs from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. If you are still in line when the polls are supposed to close, stay in line. If you’re voting on Election Day, make sure you know where your polling location is. You can find it here. When voting in-person on Election Day, remember that you will need to present an ID.
Once you’ve made a plan, commit to it. We’re asking LGBTQ people and our allies to take the pledge to be Fairness Voters and remind three friends and family members to vote. Take the pledge here.
West Virginia law requires people to present IDs when voting in-person. There is no requirement that the ID you present has a gender marker that matches your gender identity. For example, there is no requirement that trans women update the gender listed on their driver’s license from M to F in order to vote. You can do that easily (more information here and here), but it is not required to vote. There are a wide variety of IDs that you can present to vote, and many options are non-photo IDs. You can use the following forms of IDs:
- Driver’s license
- Student ID card
- Government employee ID
- Military ID
- Voter registration card
- Medicare card
- Social Security card
- Birth certificate
- WV hunting or fishing license
- WV SNAP ID Card
- WV TANF program ID card
- WV Medicaid ID card
- Bank or debit card
- Utility bill or bank statement issued within six months of the due date of the election
- Health insurance card issued to the voter
- Any document issued by the WV or US government that displays the voter’s name
- Concealed Carry permit
If you do not have any of those documents, you can still vote. Find more information about your options to vote here.
There are no ID requirements when voting by mail with an absentee ballot, and all voters in the state are able to request an absentee ballot. Request it here.
If You’re Turned Away or Harassed
If you are prevented from voting for any reason, including if a poll worker harasses you because the photo on your ID does not match your current appearance or does not display a gender marker that matches how you look, you can still vote. If that happens, here’s what you should do:
1. Call the ACLU of WV’s Election Protection hotline: 304-355-5012. Starting Friday, Sept. 18, the hotline will be staffed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, in addition to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays during the period of early voting (Oct. 21-31). The hotline will be operational all day, from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (or until polls close) on Election Day, Nov. 3. Those who call will be able to leave a message if they do not immediately reach a hotline staffer.
2. If you are being prevented from voting, ask for a provisional ballot as a last resort. This will allow you to vote and ensure your voice is heard in the election. After the polls close, when the County canvasses the election results, your provisional ballot will be included in the vote total if the signature on your provisional ballot matches the signature on your voter registration card.
3. Contact Fairness WV by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. While we cannot provide immediate assistance to you, it would be helpful for us to know where transgender voters experience harassment and discrimination. Contacting us will help us know which counties need additional assistance in future elections.