As a front-line election worker, poll workers help make sure voters feel welcome as they exercise their fundamental right at the ballot box on any given Election Day. They also make sure every vote is counted. (Literally, they count the ballots!) 

We’re grateful for poll workers who support the politcal process and encourage more North Dakotans to consider dedicating their time to making sure everyone has access to the ballot box. 

Note: The following advice is meant to support respectful interactions with transgender and gender non-conforming voters at the polls. Democracy works best when every eligible North Dakota voter participates. 


1. Quick tips for Poll Workers

A.Quick tips for Poll Workers

  • Transgender, non-binary, and gender non-nonconforming people deserve a safe election experience. Ensure this by treating them like any other voter, with respect and dignity.
    • Use respectful language without assuming someone’s gender. For example, “Pardon me” or “Would you be so kind as to step over here?” — are appropriate phrases regardless of whom you’re addressing. Simply avoid using “sir” or “ma’am.”
    • When you are not sure of a person’s gender identity or the name shown on their formal documentation does not appear to “match” the person’s gender presentation, it is OK to ask. “What are your pronouns?” or “What name would you like me to use?”
    • Acknowledge and apologize if you make a pronoun mistake, then move forward quickly. Being honest about your mistake shows respect but making a scene can make transgender or gender non-conforming people feel uncomfortable and unsafe.
  • You may encounter qualified voters whose appearance does not match their legal sex or preferred name or pronouns.
    • There are many transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming individuals who have not updated (or are not able to update) legal documents or ID. If someone presents an ID and their physical appearance or gender identity does not match their card but all other legal requirements to vote have been met, that person is entitled to vote.
    • Different clothing, makeup, or hairstyle on an ID photo is not a valid reason to deny a regular ballot. Voters may look different today than on their photo ID for many reasons.
    • Transgender voters are not doing anything wrong or trying to deceive you — they are just being themselves. Transgender people have the right to vote just like everyone else, and it is your responsibility to ensure they are able to do so without hassle. If confusion about this person’s right to vote persists, please consult an inspector or election judge to resolve any remaining questions.
  • If you see individuals made unsafe due to gender identity or sexual orientation, please report it to the inspector or election coordinator.
    • This includes harassment or unfair treatment by fellow election workers or other voters at the polling location.
    • If the situation escalates, contacting law enforcement may be appropriate. This determination is likely up to the onside inspector, however, use your own discretion depending on the circumstances.

2. DOs & DON'Ts

A.DOs & DON'Ts



  • Do ask a person’s preferred name and/or pronouns if you are unsure of their gender identity.
    • Asking can make a transgender or gender non-conforming person know you are understanding and put them at ease.
  • Do acknowledge and apologize if you misgender someone and ensure you will use their preferred pronouns moving forward.
    • Mistakes happen. This further shows understanding and respect on your part and you are trying.
  • Do use “they/them” pronouns or only the person’s first name, if you are unsure what pronoun they use.
    • They/them pronouns may feel awkward for you, but are widely accepted among the LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit community as neutral pronouns until a person’ s preferred pronouns are identified.
  • Do validate how people present themselves by treating them with respect.
    • People deserve to be treated with human dignity and honoring a person how they present in the world and being kind is the least someone can do to provide a positive voting experience for a trans or gender-non-conforming person.


  • Don’t assume a person is male or female based on their appearance alone.
    • Your understanding of what gender should look like is your experience and not necessarily the experience of a trans or gender non-conforming person.
  • Don’t ask a transgender or gender non-conforming person what their “real name” is.
    • Such language can be offensive and make the person feel unsafe.
  • Don’t use words such as “it” or “whatever” to refer to someone.
    • These words and such treatment are hurtful and inappropriate.
  • Don’t inquire about surgeries or any other intimate details.
    • Just like anyone else, transgender/gender non-conforming people’s personal medical information is private. Although you may be curious or confused about a voter’s appearance, asking personal questions is offensive, inappropriate, and not relevant to their right to vote.
  • Don’t ever “out” someone by revealing their identity to others.
    • It is wrong to share privileged information about a person to other individuals as part of conducting your duty.
    • Sharing someone is transgender violates their privacy and may have legal consequences.

3. Terms You May Hear

A.Terms You May Hear

  • Transgender. Someone whose identity (their internal sense of being a man, woman, or something outside that binary) differs from the gender they were assumed to be at birth.
  • Gender non-conforming. Someone whose behavior or appearance does not conform to prevailing cultural and social expectations about what is appropriate to their gender.
  • Non-binary or gender-queer. A gender identity other than male or female. Some non-binary people use “they” or another gender-neutral pronoun rather than “he” or “she.”
  • Two Spirit. An Indigenous person who identifies as having both a masculine and a feminine spirit. It is also used by some Indigenous people to describe their sexuality, gender, and/or spiritual identity and is widely included as part of the LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit acronym.