Hopkinsville resident Laretta Ortt arrived at the Pennyrile Allied Community Services Inc. station around 11 a.m. Tuesday to catch a bus to go vote in the primary election at the James E. Bruce Convention Center.
PACS partnered with the Christian County Health Department to offer free, safe and healthy transit rides for anyone who needed a ride to vote between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Ortt said she appreciated having free transportation to cast her ballot.
“I use the service all the time to go around town, pay bills. I don’t drive,” she said. “It’s convenient.”
Although there were options to vote by absentee ballot or at the courthouse, Ortt said caring for her elderly mother made it difficult to cast her ballot before Tuesday.
“I always knew I could come out today if I needed to,” she said about riding the PACS bus.
PACS drivers Roy Mumford and Archie Wells were on standby at the station all day waiting for clients who needed a ride to the polls.
“It’s a good service and it’s a good opportunity for people who don’t have transportation to be able to get to the polls to vote,” Mumford said. “It’s a great service for people to take advantage of.”
“It’s for people who don’t have another way to go,” Wells said. “They can get here fairly easy. All of us drivers, as a rule, we’ve got some pretty good safety records getting people where they need to be on time. We carry a lot of people to a lot of places.”
Per the governor’s recommendations, PACS limited the number of riders, but the restrictions were not needed as the turnout was slim at the station all day. Two passengers rode the PACS buses before lunch and three rode Tuesday afternoon.
Ortt said she wondered how many residents knew about the free transit service to the polls in advance of Tuesday’s election.
Per the governor’s guidelines, PACS required all individuals going to the polls to wear masks. The health department provided 120 disposable masks for transit riders who did not have a mask. Even with sanitation protocols in place, Wells said concern about COVID-19 exposure still may have been an issue for some potential clients.
“They have to know they will not be in wide open spaces,” he said. “(We are) not just (transporting) one individual at a time. We’ve got to carry more than (one person) to make it work.”
Both Mumford and Wells said low turnout for the free ride to the polls could have been because many people may have voted early or elected not to vote in the primary.
“A lot of people don’t vote in the primary election; they wait until the general election,” Mumford said. “I think people should take advantage of every opportunity they have to vote.”
For others like her who needed a ride to the polls, Ortt said exercising one’s right to vote is important and PACS made it easy.
“I vote whenever I can,” she said. “I know a lot of people don’t come out to vote because they think their vote don’t make a difference. I think everybody should come out and vote. I think you should take the opportunity because your vote counts, too.”