Early voting is underway in Wisconsin, and whether you choose to vote now or on Election Day, a local nonprofit wants to make sure you have no trouble getting to the polls.
Common Cause in Wisconsin believes that if you want democracy to work, you have to show up. It is helping people do that, literally, by connecting voters with people and organizations that can drive them for free to the polls in every Wisconsin county.
Common Cause has been behind this initiative for four years, starting after it received a call from an older woman who was wondering if anyone knew of a service offering rides to the polls in her area. After making calls and scouring the web, the nonprofit found more than a dozen advocacy groups, transit, cab, and private companies that offer rides to the polls.
But it also found that, in some areas of the state, no one offered this assistance. That's when it decided to take action and began recruiting volunteer drivers to fill the gaps.
"We're really trying to make sure that all eligible voters in Wisconsin can vote," said Sandra Miller, director of Common Cause. "A lot of people fought and died for the right to vote. The thought that any of them can't exercise that right simply because they don't have a ride and can't get there, it's horrifying."
After starting small, during the 2016 election Common Cause partnered with more than 20 organizations in addition to using 80 of its own drivers.
This time around, the drivers aren't just responsible for bringing people to the polls. They're tasked with making sure they're prepared to vote. Drivers will make sure everyone has an ID that's acceptable for voting and, if a person needs to register at the polls, they'll check for a proof of residence document, too.
If you're looking for a ride to the polls, either to vote early or to vote on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6, it's as easy as picking up the phone.
In addition to bringing you to the polls, some drivers are also available to take you to the DMV to get an ID for voting.
Regardless of who you're voting for or what party you're affiliated with, you can get a free ride to the polls.
"We are not picking and choosing who we share this information with," said Miller. "We make sure the people we are working with are nonpartisan. We do have political parties on our list and we indicate they are a political party. But I've confirmed they will give rides to anyone who needs one. That's the only way they can be on our list."
Miller added that drivers will not talk to you about politics, candidates or try to forward any agenda while taking you to the polls.
Common Cause cited several specific groups of people they hope their service will benefit: seniors, people living with disabilities, people living in rural areas with limited access to transportation, people living in urban areas without a driver's license, and parents.
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