LGBTQ Public Policy: Voting and the LGBTQ Community

Public policy at the federal, state, and local level is made by the people we elect.  The U.S. Senate's tax bill, the Tennessee General Assembly's sneaky LGBT Erasure bill, and the Knoxville non-discrimination ordinance were all passed by people voted into office by ourselves and our neighbors.

Here are some issues to consider:

Tennessee ranks near the bottom of all states in voter turnout.  That matters because many local and even some state legislative races are decided by fewer than 300 votes.  If LGBTQ voters and allies turned out in greater numbers, we could make a bigger impact in the process.

Voter ID laws hamper transgender and non-binary votersThis Reuters piece from last year discusses some of the obstaclesAccording to Ballotpedia, Tennessee has a strict voter ID law in that the state requires a federal or state ID that includes a photo.  These requirements also hinder students since student IDs are not considered acceptable for voting.  The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security will provide you with a photo ID at no charge.  To learn more about that process, go to this link.

Why don't people register to vote?  We don't know all the reasons, but one survey indicates that among those not registered to vote, 62% have never been asked to register.  And if we don't register more people to vote, we can't help them turn out at the polls on Election Day.

The stakes are high.  One city in Tennessee tried to ban drag performance this year.  A school board tried to roll back LGBTQ protections for students and employees.  State legislators have introduced dozens of anti-LGBTQ bills over the last 12+ years.  Only two members of Tennessee's congressional delegation consistently support LGBTQ federal legislation.  These are the people chosen by the voters. 

Online voter registration in Tennessee is good news.  Tennessee recently rolled out online voter registration.  We can all now ask our friends to register and they can do it at home or on their phones.  All they have to do is go to this link.  Make sure you share the link with friends on social media or email it to them.

*Consider supporting TEP with a $5+ monthly contribution at this link.  Your support makes it possible for us to fight discrimination and advance equality in Tennessee.  We are grateful for your support.

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