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Efforts Are Underway to Provide Free Rides to the Polls For Stark, Cuyahoga, Summit County Voters

ABCD transport.jpg
ABCD Transport
ABCD Transport is providing the rides to the Stark County Board of Elections. The number of riders in each van is being limited to maintain social distancing.

With early voting now underway, there’s an effort in Stark County to physically get people to the polls.

The Stark County Voter Van already has about a dozen people scheduled today for free, door-to-door rides to the Board of Elections. It’s being organized by ABCD Transport (330-455-2699) and retired Massillon businessman Bob Gessner. He says he wanted to help people cast their votes despite the challenges to doing so this year.

“If you want your vote to count, there are two things you can do that are very helpful. The first is [to] vote early and in-person. The second is – if you’re going to vote absentee and you’re concerned about the mail – deliver it in-person," Gessner said. “I can’t remember a time when there was the volume of problems and the vitriol of rhetoric as we have today. And it really bothered me that so much of it is directed toward the election process.”

Gessner says the vans and drivers are practicing social distancing and best practices amid the coronavirus pandemic. He also hopes the free rides remove a barrier for people who are concerned about the travel time using Stark County’s mass transit system.

In Cuyahoga County, Voter Drive CLE will provide rides to the Board of Elections starting this week.

And in Summit County, the head of the NAACP, Judi Hill, says they have a team of drivers ready to help.

Judi Hill of the NAACP on transportation in Summit County.mp3
Judi Hill NAACP.jpg

“It’s one thing to get people registered to vote; it's another to make sure they have good information. And to also get them to the polls. On Election Day, and before Election Day, if people want to complete their ballot when they receive it, the NAACP has a coalition of people that are willing to drive people to [the Summit County Board of Elections at] 470 Grant Street if they don't trust the mail system so that they can drop it off.”

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.
A Northeast Ohio native, Sarah Taylor graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where she worked at her first NPR station, WMUB. She began her professional career at WCKY-AM in Cincinnati and spent two decades in television news, the bulk of them at WKBN in Youngstown (as Sarah Eisler). For the past three years, Sarah has taught a variety of courses in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State, where she is also pursuing a Master’s degree. Sarah and her husband Scott, have two children. They live in Tallmadge.