Idaho Considers Dropping Gender Question from Voter Forms

[Image via cardinalnewmansociety]

Idaho legislators are currently considering a proposal to remove gender questions from voter registration forms, in a nod to growing understanding of gender identity among voters – as well as to head off lawsuits. The AP has more:

Idaho voters would no longer be required to disclose their gender while registering to vote under a proposal introduced Monday at the Idaho Statehouse.

Secretary of State Chief Deputy Tim Hurst told the House State Affairs Committee that information about a voter’s sex is unnecessary and that other states have faced potential lawsuits over not providing enough options for those who don’t identify as female or male. Eliminating the option removes the threat of a legal battle.

 “It’s creating problems with society now, we would just like for that to be removed from the voter registration card,” Hurst said.

Currently, Idaho residents must provide their full name, sex, address, date of birth, driver’s license number or last four digits of the their Social Security number to register to vote — residents may sign an affidavit, however, if they do not want to show or do not have a government ID.

If adopted, the change would bring Idaho in line with several of its neighbors – though some legislators are resistant to the change:

The nearby states of Oregon, Washington, Montana, Nevada and Utah do not require sex to be disclosed on voter registration forms, according to voter-registration forms posted online.

House Assistant Majority Leader Brent Crane, R-Nampa, and Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, were the only panel members to vote against introducing the legislation.

“I’m just concerned. I think that’s valuable information,” Scott said. “I’m concerned why you would make this decision rather than add another category?”

For example, Oregon transportation officials last year agreed to become the first state to allow residents to identify as “non-binary” as a third option when disclosing their sex on licenses and identification cards rather than just select male or female.

Hurst responded that the state does not collect data based on a voter’s sex from voter registration cards and instead relies on the U.S. Census Bureau.

“We just don’t see the reason for people to identify by sex,” Hurst said.

The proposal has yet to have a full hearing and so isn’t on the verge of enactment for now. Still, if it does pass, that will be one less piece of information for election officials to collect and store – one which many of them might be happy to let go as the issue of gender becomes even more complicated across the country.

Stay tuned …

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