PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Organizations across the country have been offering free rides to the polls, helping voters who in many cases might not otherwise have been able to cast a ballot. CBS’s Elise Preston checked in with one interfaith group in Philadelphia that’s hoping to reach thousands of voters by Election Day.
For the first time in her life, 40-year-old Rasheemah Brown is casting a ballot in a general election. But she doesn’t have a working car to get to her Philadelphia polling site.
“I’m not totally comfortable with the bus right now. Some people are wearing masks, some people aren’t so to me this was a safer option,” Brown said.
That safer option is a ride from the interfaith organization, “POWER.” It’s a coalition of more than 100 Pennsylvania houses of worship that aims to mobilize voters with a focus on minorities.
Driver Kevin Bolden has been working nearly 12-hour shifts to get as many people as he can to the polls, despite the threat of coronavirus.
“I’m not concerned about my safety because we disinfect the van each and every time we drop passengers off and pick passengers up,” Bolden said.
POWER Director of Civic Engagement Kendra Cochran says this year transportation is even more critical for the low-income communities they serve, which are disproportionately hard-hit by the pandemic.
“If it comes between bus fare and maybe eating that day, they’re gonna choose to eat. So we just eliminate that whole stress.” Cochran said.
This year the group has almost tripled its fleet to meet the demand. In one night they had requests for more than 450 rides.
Across the country, organizations are providing rides in a record-breaking year for early voting. Orlando-area pastor Terence Gray says many elderly black people getting rides in his community just don’t want to vote by mail.
“Something in their core wants to walk in. It has a lot to do with the time of the generation before us that was not able to. And it matters to them,” St. Mark AME Church in Orlando Pastor Terence Gray said.
And it matters to Brown. She wants her 3-year-old daughter to see early on the importance of making her voice heard.
Organizers say lack of access to transportation, limited polling sites, and economic hardship are all forms of voter suppression.
For more information on POWER, click here.
By CBS News Correspondent Elise Preston.
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