BALTIMORE -- Some voters could ride in style to the polls on Election Day courtesy of funeral home limousines offered to chauffer older residents to voting booths amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The National Funeral Directors & Morticians Association expects to offer free rides to up to 300,000 people nationwide on Nov. 3, including in Baltimore, Miami, Detroit, Los Angeles and Kansas City, according to a statement obtained by The Baltimore Sun.
Hari P. Close, the organization’s national president and owner of Hari P. Close Funeral Service in Baltimore, said funeral home directors in his city hope to transport up to 21,000 people in Baltimore alone. The program aims to serve those 55 and older, but won't turn down any ride requests.
The initiative has helped get people to the polls in Baltimore for 25 years, and ridership peaked on election days in 2008 and 2012, Close said. He emphasized that transportation is even more crucial this year as people attempt to vote safely during the pandemic and may have to travel farther with reduced polling places.
“Now we’re the above-ground railroad to get people to the polls, no matter where they stand on issues,” The Sun quoted Close as saying.
The vehicles will be sanitized before and after voters get in and masks are required for drivers and passengers, the organization said. Vehicle capacity will be limited and the limousines will only transport groups of people within the same household, according to Carmalita March-Harris, the vice president of March Funeral Homes, which operates locations in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Disinfected chairs will also be provided for seniors who may have to sit in lines at the polls.