Election 2016: Planning in Advance - Are You Ready to Go to the Polls?

Posted on October 19, 2016

by Riley Albair

Maine is a large state, and a rural state. This means that Mainers everywhere face the challenge of finding affordable transportation in order to get to school, work, social events or appointments.  For Mainers with disabilities, the problem of finding accessible and affordable transportation is magnified, making life more difficult, more expensive, and more isolated.  And on Election Day, this lack of transportation becomes a barrier to one of our most important and central rights as citizens: the right to vote. 

This year, it is essential that voters with disabilities have a voice at the polls.  But first, you have to get there. In recognition of this fact, the City of Bangor has made all transportation to the polls free on Election Day.  However, for those of us in other communities, finding low-cost, accessible transportation on Election Day can be a challenge.  But, early planning can help.  We’ve put together some low-cost options to consider and links below.

  • Talk to your friends and neighbors. Polls are often located near where you live, so someone who lives close to you may be going to the same place to vote.  Find your polling place in advance so you can talk to neighbors and friends about where you need to go.

  • Contact a political party. Many offer resources to help find Election Day rides to the polls.
    • Libertarian Party of Maine: 207.518.7493
    • Maine Democratic Party: 207.622.2657
    • Maine Green Independent Party: 207.200.6447
    • Maine Republican Party: 207.622.6247

  • Explore public transportation options: larger cities and communities in Maine do offer some public transportation options.  See if your area offers services or routes that can help you get to the polls.  The City of Bangor, for example, is offering free (no-fare) public transportation on Election Day.  Now is the perfect time to learn more about public transport options in your area!
    • Fixed Route Buses: these transit systems offer regularly scheduled bus service throughout Maine. The most frequent and extensive service can be found in the state's larger cities.
    • ADA Transit Services: these transit providers offer ADA complementary paratransit services, available to individuals with disabilities who are unable to use the fixed-route bus service.  Rides are provided door-to-door, to locations within ¾ of a mile beyond the regular fixed route system.
    • Demand Response Buses: located throughout the state, Demand Response providers offer “door-to-door” services with advance reservations. Call your local provider to learn if you can use these services, and what they may cost.

If you are still unable to find a ride to the polls, don’t forget: absentee ballots are available to all voters, and you can request one now. You do not need a reason to ask for an absentee ballot.  It’s easy to request an absentee ballot online through the Maine Secretary of State’s website . Or, you can call your Town Clerk and ask them to mail you an absentee ballot application right to your house.   

Know another good transportation resource to the polls?  Let us know!

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