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Election Workers Get Tips to Ensure All Voters Feel Welcome

(KFOR NEWS  November 2, 2020)   Nebraska groups have published an educational guide for the state’s poll workers, part of an effort to make poll sites more welcoming for gender non-conforming, non-binary and transgender voters.

Abbi Swatsworth with OutNebraska says these constituents historically have been under-represented at the ballot box, and the goal is to break down barriers and make voting more accessible to all Nebraskans, regardless of how they identify or express their gender.   Swatsworth notes that the stakes for keeping poll sites safe are significant. According to the F-B-I’s most recent report, anti-transgender hate crimes in the U-S increased by nearly 34 percent in 2018. The guide stresses that poll workers should never “out” people by revealing their gender identity to others.

The guide encourages poll workers to make small adjustments, such as avoiding saying sir or ma’am when addressing voters. And if you’re not sure about a person’s gender identity or the name shown on their documents does not appear to match the person’s gender presentation, it’s OK to ask: ‘What name would you like me to use,’ or ‘What are your pronouns?’

The guide also asks poll workers to avoid asking trans, non-conforming or non-binary voters what their “real name” is, and to never inquire about surgeries or other intimate details.  Swatsworth says frontline election workers are uniquely positioned to make sure everyone feels welcome as they practice their fundamental right to vote.

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