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Student Council offers reimbursement for early voting transportation

Students can upload ride-sharing app receipts to receive payment for full costs of a round trip to Registrar’s office

<p>Student Council is financing transportation to early voting sites in Charlottesville for 200 students ahead of the Nov. 2 election.</p>

Student Council is financing transportation to early voting sites in Charlottesville for 200 students ahead of the Nov. 2 election.

In an effort to increase student participation in the upcoming Nov. 2 general election, Student Council has offered to reimburse up to 200 students for their Uber or Lyft transportation costs to early voting sites. 

Through a form emailed to students Friday, students can upload receipts from ride-sharing platforms and their computing ID to receive full reimbursement for round-trip travel costs. The initiative is operating on a first-come, first-serve basis for the first 200 students who complete the form. Students are encouraged to carpool to make the most of the funds. No students have chosen to submit receipts for reimbursement yet.

Legislative Affairs, the Student Council agency behind this initiative, obtained $2,175 to spend on Fall 2021 efforts, an increase from only $50 in 2020. Of the funds, $1500 are specifically allotted for the reimbursement program.

Early voting began Sept. 17 and those who are currently registered in Albemarle or Charlottesville can take advantage of early voting up until Oct. 30 at 5 p.m. Election Day polls open starting at 6 a.m. Nov. 2.

Deonte Johnson, co-chair of Legislative Affairs and fourth-year College student, said his agency hopes to use the funds to continue with registering students to vote, lobbying for an anti voter discrimination bill and advertising polling locations.

In the most recent off-year elections in 2019, 42.4 percent of registered voters in Virginia turned out — a one percent decrease from the previous year. 

“We had way more turnout last year with the presidential election, but since this is just the gubernatorial election along with some house races in Virginia delegations, we expect participation to be lower this year overall,” Johnson said. “We do have hope, however, that this program will help us see higher participation throughout this week, especially for disadvantaged people who can’t afford to drive a car to the polls or can’t get on the bus that day.”

This election includes the race for governor between Republican Glenn Youngkin, Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Liberal Party candidate Princess L. Blanding. Voters in the 57th district  — which includes Charlottesville and parts of Albemarle — will also have the opportunity to cast ballots for their representative in the House of Delegates. Incumbent Del. Sally Hudson is facing a challenge by Republican Phillip Hamilton.

Those who applied for an absentee ballot but would rather vote in-person can still utilize the reimbursement program by bringing their absentee ballot to the office to vote early.

“It’s going to be a really big election, and we want to make sure all the students participate since that's their civic duty in this country,” Johnson said.