DODGE CITY — The city of Dodge City first posted signs three weeks ago advertising free rides on the city’s Public Transportation buses to the polls on Nov. 6. On Oct. 9, they put the message on social media.
The press, including The Hutchinson News, has carried the number to call for a free bus ride - 620-371-3879 - in news stories, and Dodge City issued a press release with the number.
On Thursday, Dodge City Public Information Specialist Abbey Martin revealed how many riders had scheduled a ride to the polling place about one mile south of the city: One.
Meanwhile, the Kansas Democratic Party has experienced an outpouring of donations and help after news circulated across the country that Ford County’s lone polling site for Dodge City residents on Nov. 6 was outside city limits.
Around $10,000 has been donated, said Kansas Democratic Party Executive Director Ethan Corson. About 120 people have volunteered to help get people to the polls.
“We’ve really been blown away,” Corson said. A fulltime organizer is now in Dodge City and more organizers could be sent.
They have established two phone numbers for Dodge City residents to call if they need rides to early voting, at the Ford County Clerk’s office downtown, or to the Western State Bank Expo Center on election day. For English, call 785-408-2684, and for Spanish, call 785-408-3607.
They are “already live,” Corson said of the phone numbers. The number of people who have called and scheduled a ride with the Kansas Democratic Party volunteers was not available Thursday.
Corson said the donations will be used for a digital advertising campaign, for lodging for the organizers, and for computer upgrades.
The show of support has been “really humbling,” Corson said.
Secretary of State candidate Brian “BAM” McClendon, D-Lawrence, walked from the nearest bus stop to the Western State Bank Expo Center to call attention to the site’s distance from public transportation. That was filmed and his campaign said it has boosted national awareness of the issue.
People can call as late as election day to schedule a free ride to the voting site on the city bus system, Martin said. Buses run from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., and voting is from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The bus system has one main bus driver designated to take voters to the polls, with three or more drivers available to help if needed.
“We will have enough,” Martin said.
Dodge City has had one voting site for many years, according to Ford County Clerk Debbie Cox, and the polling place was moved from the Civic Center, roughly in the middle of town, due to scheduled construction. The move is temporary.