Need a lift to the polls? Local groups offer rides to voters

By Christine Edwards
October 17, 2018

An estimated 15 million people were registered — but didn’t vote — in 2016 because of transportation issues, according to a Lyft blog post. Communities are being proactive as cases of voter suppression continue to surface. Greater Rise Charlotte, the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party and Action NC are coordinating rides to early voting locations to ensure community members don’t miss their chance to be part of the election process.

Greater Charlotte Rise

Jasmine Sherman, an organizer with Greater Charlotte RISE, said her organization is offering rides to the polls to increase voter turnout. Voters can request a ride or offer a ride to the polls beginning Oct.18. The group is also collecting donations for gas stipends.

Mecklenburg County Democratic Party

Similarly, the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party (MCDP) is connecting those who need rides with nearby volunteer drivers. Voters can call the MCDP headquarters at 704.525.5843 for more information.

Action NC Political Director Robert Dawkins has worked to coordinate rides in areas of need, generally for elderly residents. While funding is available for campaign events and voter registration rallies, rides to the polls — which can be the most expensive election day need — are rarely fully funded. Dawkins recommends that individuals get together and create ride sharing pools through their churches or neighborhood associations. Most of the time, they gather people by going door to door.

“We’ll bring you to the polls, and if you need to bring your grandkids with you, you can bring them too,” Dawkins said.

Popular ride-sharing companies Lyft and Uber will launch efforts to boost voter turnout on Nov. 6, Election Day. Lyft will offer discounts to its nonprofit partners for 50 percent off rides. Uber will insert a “Get to the Polls” button inside its app that will allow voters to find their polling place and book a free ride to it.

The important thing to remember is to make a plan.

Nineteen early voting locations are open through Nov. 3. Those who missed the voter registration deadline can still register in person (with proof of residence) and vote during the early voting period.

Election Day polling locations will be open 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Find your voting precinct here.

Do you know other organizations doing good in the community during this election season? Shout them out!