Truckers Ron and Jeremy Ellis are finished making excuses for not exercising their right to vote.
And with the help of a Grain Valley-based company, the father-son trucking team that often works 28-day stretches without a break can now get absentee ballots and even cast votes in this November’s election — from the road.
“There is no excuse not to vote now,” Ron Ellis said.
Last week, Owner-Operated Independent Drivers Association of Grain Valley launched Truck Vote, a campaign aimed at providing election information to truckers nationwide. Truckers can use the company’s voting registration Web site, www.truckvote.com, to register to vote and get absentee ballots and other election information from all 50 states.
Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vice president, said voting is the easiest and most direct way for truckers to take part in their government. One driver registered through Truck Vote before the campaign was announced, Spencer said. “They (truck drivers) are a very important block of voters that should be given more consideration,” he said.
Truck stops across the country now provide Internet access for drivers. Although Midway Travel Plaza in Columbia does not yet have Internet access, manager Linda Sipe said drivers with laptops can plug in through telephone jacks.
Travel schedules and the demands of life on the road make it difficult for truckers to register in their home states, Spencer said. Many drivers cast their ballots through early voting and absentee ballots, each of which requires planning and awareness of voting deadlines.
“Their schedules are built around accommodating other people and we want to help them fully participate,” Spencer said.
Ellis and his son Jeremy said they are making their first trip driving for Cedar Rapids Steel Transport. They said they were planning to return to Tennessee to cast their votes, but they may alter their plans because of the new absentee online voting.
“I’m going to look into the Web site,” Ron Ellis said.
Depending on the state, absentee ballots can be obtained a number of ways. For Missouri truckers, www.truckvote.com directs drivers to the secretary of state’s Web site, where they can request a voter registration form. Because state law requires voter registrations to be a certain format, they cannot be completed online or from a form printed from the Internet.
Truckers from other states, however, may be able to register and vote online. Spencer said votes from the roughly three million truckers in the U.S. would be difficult to ignore.
“Truckers have the potential to become a far stronger voice in the political process,” Spencer said.