Our New Support Program Initiative to Help RPCVs Vote
It can be hard enough for some RPCVs to get to the polls or ballot drop-off locations due to the pandemic. But some challenges impact RPCVs with health issues more than others. We wanted to help RPCVs vote, but how can we make a difference? We are a small group of volunteers already stretched to the limit. But then we looked around.
Some states and territories created additional challenges like not offering accessible ballots, inaccessible polling locations, and/or limiting the number of places to drop off ballots. Voter identification laws vary greatly across states. Some states do not offer effective or any mail-in voting. Long lines at polling locations and crowded conditions makes in-person voting scary.
But for some RPCVs with disabilities and other health issues, those challenges can be so impactful that they could decide to not vote. One Harvard report claims that 14% of eligible voters identified transportation as a barrier to voting. What percentage are people with disabilities? Can we help make a difference?
So once again, we rolled up our sleeves and asked ourselves how we can help RPCVs in need. We started a new Support Program initiative to Help RPCVs Vote!
Help RPCVs Vote Initiative is Launched
We do not have the bandwidth to take on inaccessible voting with every state’s or territory’s government. But, we are supporting (and thanking) other organizations that are leading the charge for accessible ballots and polling locations. We can’t tackle needed changes to the setup at each polling location. But is there something we can do for this election?
There is no shortage of groups getting the word out for people to vote. There is information posted about voting options. But what about people who cannot overcome the hurdles to actually vote independently?
Of course, we want to try to help all RPCVs get to the polls. But our main target are RPCVs with disabilities and/or significant medical conditions particularly in lower-income communities. Some RPCVs in this group do not have an apathy to vote but need the ability to vote.
“No” is Not An Option
We decided to focus on locating options for free or low cost rides for RPCVs in need. Getting to the polling locations or ballot drop-box locations is a hurdle we can try to minimize. For weeks, RPCV Health Crusade reached out to different ride share, transportation, and taxi app companies. Will they offer free or discounted rides? We followed endless repeating processes. They passed us from one department representative to another. We broadened our efforts to other potential sources.
But we did not take the easy “no” for an answer. One company admitted they admired our commitment to keep pushing. Guess they did realize there are people who learned how to be effective after being dropped off alone in the middle of a small village in a foreign country with little knowledge of the local language and told to figure it out for ourselves on what to do and how to do it!
Get Out and Vote
Visit our new Support Program Help RPCVs Vote Initiative to see what we have collected. We looked for a variety of potential options to get to the polls or ballot boxes. We identified which options are open for all RPCVs and which are limited to RPCVs with disabilities and medical conditions. And let us know of any options to add to our list.
This election may be one of the most important in our lifetime. RPCV Health Crusade is doing its part. Will you do yours? Every vote counts!