1 in 5 LGBTQ adults isn’t registered to vote, despite high 2020 stakes

  • Written by MarketWatch
  • Published in Economics

Some 21% of LGBTQ adults aren’t registered to vote, according to a study released this week[1] by the University of California, Los Angeles’ Williams Institute. That’s compared to an estimated 17% of non-LGBTQ adults.

The finding, part of a larger poll of 2,237 people that measured LGBTQ voters’ demographic characteristics and political attitudes, came as LGBTQ rights have taken center stage in the national conversation. Meanwhile, Friday marked National Coming Out Day[2].

Some LGBTQ voters already face an uphill battle making their voices heard at the ballot box.

“Voter suppression has primarily targeted voters of color, who also happen to include LGBTQ Americans, who far too often face disproportionate barriers in accessing their right to vote,” Human Rights Campaign president Alphonso David told the Washington Post [3]after HRC, a nonprofit that advocates for LGBTQ rights, backed[4] a voting-rights initiative led by former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.

For instance, David said, voter-ID laws in some states requiring that a person’s documentation match their birth-assigned gender could preclude a transgender person[5] from casting a ballot. While about 137,000 transgender people who had transitioned in the U.S. were eligible to vote ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, more than half might not have had documentation or ID that correctly reflected their gender, the Williams Institute found in August 2018[6].

With that said, almost 9 million LGBTQ adults are eligible and registered to vote next November, according to the most recent poll, which was conducted by Ipsos in collaboration with the Williams Institute and Thomson Reuters. Half said they were Democrats, while 22% were independents and 15% were Republicans.

The sample included 136 registered LGBTQ voters and 1,836 registered non-LGBTQ voters.

LGBTQ rights feature in the 2020 presidential race

The Williams Institute analysis comes ahead of a high-stakes election in which civil-rights protections for LGBTQ people could hang in the balance[7].

The Equality Act, a bill that would shield LGBTQ individuals from discrimination in credit, housing, employment and a range of other areas, passed earlier this year in the Democrat-led House. Activists believe that turning the Republican-led Senate blue[8] in 2020 would boost the bill’s chances of being signed into law.

Many leading Democrats vying for the 2020 nomination — including former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, the only openly gay candidate running — have thrown their support behind the Equality Act. Sen. Elizabeth Warren[9] (D-Mass.) has also proposed[10] abolishing the filibuster to clear a path for the Equality Act’s passage, should Senate Republicans block it.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not brought the bill to the floor, and President Trump’s administration has claimed[11] that the bill in its current form “is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine...

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