MEMPHIS, Tenn. — To encourage high voter turnout, local organizations like the NAACP Memphis branch, churches, political party groups, and Memphis Area Transit Authority are offering free rides during early voting and on Election Day.
Vickie Terry, the executive director of the NAACP Memphis branch, said everyone's vote is needed in this historical presidential election.
"This is probably one of the most important races in history," Terry said. "We want to make we encourage everyone to get out and vote."
NAACP Memphis is partnering with Blues City Tours during early voting dates on October 19-21 and on Election Day from 10 am until 6 pm. Terry said anyone who needs a ride can call their office with their name, number, address, and zip code to coordinate a pickup time.
"If you need a ride to the polls, please call the NAACP at 901-521-1343," Terry said.
Terry said either an individual car can pick you up at your home and drop you off after voting or you can meet at the Memphis Housing Authority where a shuttle bus can pick you up. All rides will be sanitized, social distancing will be practiced on the shuttle bus, and only one or two people in the same household will be driven at a time in an individual car.
"We also want to make sure people get their friends and families out," Terry said. "Don’t just take yourself. If you know of someone who needs a ride, make sure you get them out to the polls as well."
MATA will be offering free rides for all customers on Election Day. Memphis City Councilwoman Michalyn Easter-Thomas said the council passed a resolution for the free rides as an effort to increase voter participation.
"We can remove all barriers, that we as a local government have control over, to allow people to exercise their right for a fully democratic society," Easter-Thomas said.
She also expressed the importance of people getting to the polls and feeling empowered about the importance of their vote.
"We have to make sure that people know that when you don’t vote you are voting," Easter-Thomas said. "You’re voting to give your voice and your opinion to someone else that did exercise their right."
Contact information for organizations offering free rides:
NAACP Memphis: 901-521-1343
Shelby County Democratic Party: 844-901-8683
St. Paul Baptist Church: 901-346-5544