By TIMOTHY DASHIELL
ANNAPOLIS– With early voting scheduled to kick off in Maryland Thursday and continue through Nov 3, counties, organizations and even individuals across Maryland are mobilizing initiatives to get as many residents to the polls as they can.
In some cases, they are using cars. In others, they are boarding prospective buses. Early voting sites are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
In Frederick County, free pickup and drop-offs will be available on the 20 Connector to the early voting center at the Trinity Recreation Center in Frederick from the start of early voting to Nov. 3, when it ends.
Elsewhere, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation will have several bus routes available to transport voters to the 14 early voting centers located throughout the county.
Officials said it is a much needed service.
“In Montgomery County, a large portion of our population relies on public transportation for essential trips,” said Chris Conklin, director of the county’s department of transportation.
Montgomery County seniors, residents with disabilities and students can ride county buses for free if they qualify for a Senior SmartTrip Card, Metro Disability Card or a Youth Cruiser Card, said Emily DeTitta, a spokesperson for the transportation department.
“We wanted to work with our citizens and with the board of elections to ensure as many opportunities to reach the polls as possible,” DeTitta said.
In Prince George’s County, the Greenbelt Connection will provide free transportation to polling locations across the city. The city bus will also be making scheduled pick-ups after voters have cast their ballots at the Greenbelt Community Center.
Meanwhile, Reid Temple A.M.E. Church in Glendale is taking members via bus to polling locations inside Prince George’s County Sunday, Oct. 30, after morning service. The bus will leave after 9:30 a.m.
Rideshare service Lyft is launching its LyftUp Voting Access Program. The program will provide discounted rides to polls on Election Day across the country.
The rideshare service said in a press release it will also donate free or heavily discounted ride codes to its nonprofit partners, like the League of Women Voters, National Federation of the Blind, National Council on Aging and the NAACP, so they can pass them onto their clients who traditionally have difficulty getting to the polls.
In Baltimore County, Danita Tolson, president of the Baltimore County NAACP, provides personal transportation so dozens of people can vote who might not otherwise.
Sometimes she uses her car to carry those without wheels, sometimes first-time voters, to the polls. On other occasions, she drives seniors, using the cars they are no longer able to navigate.
“It’s just something I do,”Tolson said. “I am very passionate about politics and making sure everyone exercises their right to vote.”