Several nonprofit groups in the Twin Cities are working together to offer free rides to the polls for people with disabilities.
Eligible voters in the seven-county metro area who need a ride can call a hot line at 1-877-50-RIDES (1-877-507-4337) or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a ride to and from their local polling place. The service is available Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Trained volunteers will help voters get in and out of the vehicles. Seven accessible vans are available for those needing wheelchair transport.
Sponsoring groups include Courage Center, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, Merrick Inc., and many other nonprofits, said Christian Knights of Courage Center.
“Although voter turnout is normally good in Minnesota, studies have shown that people with disabilities are 20 percent less likely to vote than people without disabilities in similar demographic groups,” Knights said. “A huge contributing factor to this disparity is the barrier of transportation.”
In 2008, about 250 voters with disabilities were driven to the polls through the program, he said.
“Our work is totally nonpartisan, and available to anyone who needs a ride for any number of reasons,” Knights said. “Voting is so important not just to maintaining democracy, but studies have shown that participation in civic engagement raises peoples community involvement and prevents feelings of isolation that are often felt by individuals with disabilities.”