- The North American Bikeshare Association (NABSA) has launched its "Roll to the Polls" campaign, an industrywide effort among to help voters access polling sites via free or discounted vehicles on Election Day.
- Participating NABSA members include Bird, Chattanooga Bicycle Transit System, Gotcha, MoGo Detroit, Populus and more.
- The micromobility industry wants to remove any transportation barriers voters may face, particularly amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to Max Smith, CEO of Gotcha, a subsidiary of Last Mile Holdings. "Your right to vote is free, getting there should be free as well," Smith said.
The pandemic has presented many new challenges to voters, and the changes to public transit in many parts of the country could add to those existing barriers.
Three percent of U.S. residents in 2016, for example, said "transportation problems" were an obstacle to voting, according to NABSA. In 2020, 3% of residents represents 4.6 million registered voters who could still face those same obstacles.
"Roll to the polls" is the latest way the micromobility industry is helping bolster transportation options during the pandemic, according to Smith. The industry has "stepped up" in a lot of ways, Smith said, including by offering free or reduced-cost rides to healthcare, restaurant and essential workers.
The vehicles also played a civic engagement role during protests following the police killing of George Floyd, particularly as some cities suspended their public transit service during the demonstrations. Some micromobility companies did pull their scooters amid city curfews.
Other transportation groups like the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) are also supporting Election Day efforts with the recent release of their street closure guidelines for safe voting.
The latest tool in Streets for Pandemic Response & Recovery: Streets for Voting— NACTO (@NACTO) September 24, 2020
Streets and sidewalks can be repurposed for queueing and ballot drop-off to ensure people have access to voting without compromising their health.
More: https://t.co/uOpvTnHWXm (pdf) pic.twitter.com/YifCD6uCsp
The group recommends that street closures and open areas be used for safe distancing at election sites. Those locations could include parking lots, polling sites, parks and playgrounds, and streets adjacent to polling locations without transit service.
Paris, France, for example, uses plazas and open areas to safely extend socially distant lines, according to NACTO. Burlington County, NJ offers "ballot drop boxes" for pedestrians or drivers, and Madison, WI has mobile libraries that also function as ballot drop-off and voter registration locations.