South Dakota Organizations Release Poll Worker Tips for Respecting Transgender, Non-Binary and Gender Non-Conforming People

November 2, 2020 12:15 pm

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ACLU of South Dakota
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SOUTH DAKOTA – The ACLU of South Dakota, Equality South Dakota and the Transformation Project have released a tip sheet for South Dakota’s election workers that details best practices for interacting with gender non-conforming, non-binary and transgender voters. The tip sheet was distributed to all county auditors in the state to share with their precinct workers and volunteers ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

“As transgender South Dakotans 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 South Dakota voters in a respectful way,” said Adam Jorgensen, ACLU of South Dakota LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit voting rights campaign organizer. “We hope this information helps Election Day poll workers create an even better experience for voters.”

The one-page document includes definitions of transgender, gender non-conforming and non-binary and provides guidance that can help precinct workers create a welcoming environment and protect eligible voters’ rights to cast a ballot. Advice ranges from avoiding terms like ma’am or sir to expecting that someone’s outward appearance may differ from what a precinct worker thinks when reading a name on the voting list.

“Voting is a key component of civic engagement. It is how our voices are heard around key issues and elections,” said Michael Hanson, Equality South Dakota president. “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 resources sent to every county auditor in South Dakota underscore the need for a welcoming approach to Election Day to ensure every South Dakota voter is treated with dignity and respect as they exercise their right to vote.

“Every registered voter in South Dakota has the hard-earned ability to make their voices heard on a variety of issues that matter most to them – nothing should stop that,” said Susan Williams, Transformation Project executive director. “I think it’s important that all poll workers be clear that trans and gender non-conforming South Dakotans will come to the polls knowing their rights as citizens and voters. A good interaction and a good experience are ensured when the ‘ground rules’ are clearly communicated and understood by all stakeholders.”

In addition to the tip sheet for election workers, the organizations are sharing voting rights information for gender non-conforming, non-binary and transgender voters on social media. The information includes answers to common questions, election protection resources and more.

This isn’t the first time the ACLU of South Dakota, Equality South Dakota and the Transformation Project have teamed up to advocate for transgender rights. The organizations, along with other LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit Pride groups throughout the state, launched a voter engagement initiative earlier this year to encourage queer communities to get out and vote.

The letter sent to the county auditors is here.

The tip sheet for poll workers is here.

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