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Souls to the Polls | How volunteers are making sure everyone can get to their polling place

This is the first time the group is offering rides for in-person absentee voting
Credit: APRI St. Louis
Souls to the Polls volunteer and voters

ST. LOUIS — For some voters, one barrier stands in the way of casting their ballot and it's one some people take for granted — transportation.

It's one the St. Louis Chapter of APRI, an organization that seeks to increase voter participation, is trying to remove through its initiative "Souls to the Polls." For the first time, the organization is offering rides for in-person absentee voting.

"With all of the confusion that was going on with the mail-in ballots and the postal service ... we thought it was important to offer that service to folks and make sure their voice was heard," said Keith Robinson, the president of the St. Louis Chapter of APRI.

Robinson said about a dozen volunteer drivers are available to take voters to absentee voting sites around St. Louis and St. Louis County. And dozens of voters have already taken advantage of the service.

"People of all walks of life, all colors, all races, some are older, some are younger," Robinson said.

On Election Day, APRI will ramp up its efforts. About 60 volunteer drivers at four different locations in the area will be on standby, ready to drive voters to their polling places.

"I think it's a barrier to quite a few folks who are on public transportation that have one or two jobs that they have to go to, folks who have daycare issues, or folks who just can’t get to their polling location," he said. 

On Election Day, drivers go out in pairs for safety purposes and will follow COVID-19 protocol. They will wear masks and gloves and disinfect their cars in between rides. Passengers must also wear masks and they will get their temperatures taken upon pickup. 

So, whether it's transportation or health concerns, Robinson said his organization is working to remove the barriers to voting.

"It's an important election."

Rides to absentee voting sites are offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays until Oct. 29. Anyone who needs a ride may call 314-562-0411.

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