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Dallas nonprofits offer rides to the polls to help more people vote

People who need a ride to the polls can contact For Oak Cliff, a community-building organization, that is offering rides on Election Day.
Credit: Byron Harris / Special contributor

Charlie Sanders was so sick he could barely walk out of his front door. Still, he was determined to vote. 

Luckily for him, Hope and Opportunity America Initiative was around to give him a ride to vote early on Saturday. 

Sanders, 51, wouldn’t say what was ailing him. But after he hobbled out of his house to the ride the group had arranged for him, he told his driver he expected to be dead soon. 

“I felt privileged to be able to get him to the polls,” said Teresa Tumminia, Hope and Opportunity’s founder. 

Like everyone who uses the nonprofit, Sanders got a free ride home after he cast his ballot. 

Among the caravans carrying voters to the polls this election, this group is a little different. 

Instead of picking folks up at a gathering place and driving them to the polls, the group is more like a free two-way Uber for voting.  

RELATED: Dallas County has set early voting record

Like Hope and Opportunity, people who need a ride to the polls can contact For Oak Cliff, a community-building organization that operates from a storefront on South Marsalis Avenue. The group is offering free rides on Election Day, Nov. 3. 

On Saturday, sixteen volunteer drivers from all over Dallas gathered at For Oak Cliff’s office with a mission: pick up one voter, drive them to the polls and then take them back home.   

“I think of people like my mom, who doesn’t drive," said Jessica Trevizos, one of the volunteers. “I know that if it wasn’t for her children taking her, and taking the initiative to give her a ride, she might not vote.”

Christina Crouch, another volunteer driver, said it's important to democracy that people have the opportunity to vote. 

"And I would imagine, especially during Covid, there are people who are afraid to vote,” she said. “And unless somebody comes to get them and take them out, they may not.”

Tumminia, the founder of Hope and Opportunity, said it's too difficult to vote in Texas, something she learned after moving from New York. 

"Texas is different from a lot of states,” she said. “You can be ‘suspended’ from voting and not even know it.” 

According to the Texas Secretary of State, a voter registration can be suspended if voters change address without notifying the county voting registrar and don’t vote in two federal elections. 

“Other states don’t have suspended voters’ lists,” Tumminia said.

Her organization plans to educate voters about the challenges to cast ballots in Texas. 

In the meantime, it's just about getting them to the polls.