Need a ride to vote? Call your Mother
The presidential election is a month away – and it’s no ordinary election – so Mothers of Hope, a non-profit based in Kalamazoo’s Northside neighborhood, is helping make it easier to drop off an absentee ballot by providing free rides to the city and county clerk’s office.
“We do five to ten a day now, and I think it will get more as we get closer to the elections,” said Pat Davis, office manager at Mothers for Hope. “Anyone who needs transportation to the polls or to the clerk’s office to drop off [an] absentee ballot” is an email or phone call away.
The organization has been giving voters a lift “for the last several years,” said Davis. But there are circumstances this year, such as actions by the federal government to reduce the speed of mail delivery, making it more important to make it easier to make sure a ballot is counted.
This year’s nationwide election has been atypical, even beyond the animosity between the two leading candidates for president. The global COVID-19 pandemic has increased fears of in-person voting on election day, and many states have been extra accommodating of absentee and mail-in voting.
“It’s more difficult than in the past,” due to the pandemic, Davis said. “But we make sure they all have masks and if they don’t have masks we provide this for them.”
In Michigan, voters can register to vote as late as election day, though by then it’s required to be in person at the local clerk’s office. Requests for an absentee ballot can be made until the Friday prior to the election. And people with a felony on their record are no longer barred from voting so long as they’re not incarcerated.
Such measures have been criticized by President Trump and some Republicans, including via unfounded allegations of fraud related to absentee voting, which risks degrading trust in this core democratic process.
One takeaway in the runup to election day is the need to do much more for people who face obstacles to voting. This is another reason for Mothers of Hope’s initiative.
“Many unrepresented people in Kalamazoo do not have access to transportation or the money for transportation,” said Davis. “We just want to provide this service to the community who are in need.”
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