Bus rides in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids will be free all day on Election Day, as both cities try to make getting to the polls easier for voters. These well-intentioned efforts, however, highlight the limitations of both cities’ public transit systems.
Polls will be open statewide for the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 6, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., but the free rides in Cedar Rapids will end at 6:15 p.m. That’s because the buses in Iowa’s second-largest city only run from 5:15 a.m. to 6:15 p.m. on weekdays.
We aren't able to expand bus schedule hours, but hope by providing free rides all day it removes transportation as a barrier to voting for many residents.
— City of Cedar Rapids (@CityofCRiowa) October 29, 2018
Buses in Iowa City will be running the whole time the polls are open, but not every polling place will be accessible by bus. “Iowa City Transit does not directly serve Terry Trueblood Recreation Area, the location of precinct 10. Voters assigned to this polling place are encouraged to call a cab company or ride share service,” the Iowa City Department of Transportation said in a statement.
The bus system’s failure to serve all the city was an issue discussed by every candidate in the recent special election to fill the vacancy on the Iowa City Council.
The University of Iowa’s Cambus schedule and routes will not be change on Election Day, but they will, as always, offer free rides open to the public.
Ride-share companies Uber and Lyft announced they will be doing promotions in the spirit of getting voters to the polls. Uber is offering a $10 discount through their “Uber Drives the Vote” campaign (riders will need a promo code to receive the discount, which will be announced via the Uber app on Election Day).
Lyft’s “The Ride to the Vote” promotion includes 50 percent off ride fees. The code for this discount can be accessed through Buzzfeed (the code across Iowa appears to be VOTEIA). According to Lyft, they will also be offering “free rides to underserved communities that face significant obstacles to transportation,” though it’s unclear how to determine if you are one of these communities, and how to claim the free ride.
Voters must go to their assigned polling place to cast a ballot on Tuesday. Both county auditors’ offices have online tools for anyone unsure of where to go. In-person early voting will continue at both auditor’s offices through the close of business on Monday.
There will be special weekend hours for early voting. Both offices will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3. The Johnson County Auditor’s office will also be open on Sunday, Nov. 4, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Johnson County will also have the following satellite locations available for in-person early voting. Any registered Johnson County voter may vote at these locations.
• Wednesday, Oct. 31, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. — Iowa City Public Library
• Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2 to 6:00 p.m. — Coralville Public Library
• Thursday, November 1, 3 to 7 p.m. — Iowa City Public Library
• Friday, Nov. 2, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. — Iowa City Public Library
• Saturday, Nov. 3, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Coralville Public Library
• Saturday, Nov. 3, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. — Iowa City Public Library
(Linn County’s satellite voting locations closed last week.)
Absentee ballots from people wanting to vote by mail must be postmarked by Monday, Nov. 5.
No ID is required for early in-person voting. On Election Day, registered voters will be asked to show ID, but voters who can’t or choose not to will be able to sign an oath attesting to their identity instead.