Campaigns offer voters rides to poll

Thursday, October 30th 2008, 12:01 am
By: News 9

By Dave Jordan, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- In many states, thousands of votes are already submitted. As of Tuesday, nearly 10 million ballots had been cast in 31 states.

Two Oklahoma candidates are taking a common and sometimes controversial step in getting out the vote, or making sure voters get to the polls, by offering free rides.

Even though Democratic challenger Andrew Rice recently rose in some tracking polls, his campaign is determined to ensure his supporters turn out on Election Day.

"When we talk to voters, we always ask if they need a ride to the poll," Rice Campaign Field Director Matt Tepper said. "If they do, we take down their information."

Campaign workers for Republican incumbent Jim Inhofe are also extending the same courtesy.

"If someone needs a ride, we're more than happy to pick them up and get them out there so they can cast their ballot and be part of the process," Inhofe Campaign Manager Josh Kevitt said.

The practice is nothing new, according to News 9 political analyst Scott Mitchell.

"It's a tradition that's so very old in this country, but until recently, it was never thought as there was something wrong with this," Mitchell said.

There were reports of voter fraud during the 2004 presidential campaign.

Workers were accused of picking up people off the street and driving them to polling sites. Mitchell hasn't heard reports of that happening in Oklahoma, but the practice is still widely regarded with suspicion.

"It's a shame, because there are a lot of people out there that are shut-ins and folks who don't have ways or gasoline money to get to the polls," Mitchell said.

Representatives for both candidates said they've taken steps to make sure this practice is above board.

"People call us," Kevitt said. "They reach out to us for their support, then we're more than happy to help them out with that."

Tepper said his party is also happy to offer a scheduled ride.

"We call them back and make sure they actually do need a ride and then we set it all up," Tepper said.

Both campaign said they expect to do several rides to the polls on Election Day.

If you need a ride to the polls you are asked to call democrat headquarters at (918) 742-2457 or republican headquarters at (405) 946-1494.