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Volunteers Offer Rides To Help People Get To The Polls To Vote

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Now we're going to hear from some people less concerned with how you vote than whether you vote. They're giving voters a ride to the polls. All across the country, volunteers are offering their time and their wheels to make sure citizens who are elderly or disabled or just don't have transportation can still vote.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

We caught up with Lashawnda Fields in a sort of dispatch center in St. Louis. It's run by the A. Philip Randolph Institute and the local Urban League.

LASHAWNDA FIELDS: So I just this moment wrapped a ride with - her name was Ms. Laura.

CORNISH: Fields said Ms. Laura didn't have a car and had trouble getting around, so she picked her up and took her to her polling place and then back home again.

CHANG: Fields is a Ph.D. student doing an afternoon shift before she teaches a class this evening. It's a strictly nonpartisan effort. Volunteers cannot wear candidate T-shirts or talk about issues with voters. And Fields says she's OK with that. She just wants people to vote.

FIELDS: It's as American as apple pie. I think everyone has a role in this. So I just want to make sure that that right is available to everyone.

CORNISH: Tori Constantine of Atlanta signed up to give rides through an online platform called Carpool Vote. It matches volunteer drivers with voters in need. She drove two people to the polls before work today.

CHANG: One was a woman whose car had been recently stolen.

TORI CONSTANTINE: She told me that up until she found Carpool Vote, she was planning on staying at home and not voting in this election.

CHANG: Constantine picked the woman up again after she had voted, which took two hours.

CONSTANTINE: Instead of coming out and - you know, she'd been waiting in the rain - sort of being annoyed with all of that, she told me she was just blessed to have had the opportunity to vote.

CHANG: Constantine says this is the first time she's driven voters. She says she didn't want to have any regrets about not doing enough.

CORNISH: Lauren Stanley is an Episcopal priest at the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Folks there call it the rez. She has organized her own nonpartisan, one-woman shuttle service.

LAUREN STANLEY: We have so many people who don't have rides, or they don't have money for gas for their cars. So I've announced on the rez that I will drive anyone anywhere on this rez to the polls and then take them home.

CORNISH: Rosebud is about the size of Delaware. So it means a lot of driving.

CHANG: When we caught up with Stanley this morning, she had driven two voters and expected to put more than 200 miles by the end of the day. And she says she's motivated to do this work in part because of America's history.

STANLEY: Natives were not allowed to vote in this country until 1924.

CHANG: Now that they have that right, Stanley says she wants to make sure people in her community can use it. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.