HART poised to give Tampa voters free rides on Election Day

The fact that HART had never done such a promotion on Election Days understandably concerned some voters.  In any event, with no transit measures on the Tampa March 1 ballot, HART announced today that it will reprise the benefit, and provide free rides to Tampa residents with a valid registration card next Tuesday.

Of course, conspiracy minded voters may not be satisfied.  One of the candidates running in the city wide District 1 City Council race, Curtis Stokes, was apparently the HART board member who made the suggestion last year for the agency to include the benefit, copying what some other transit agencies have done on election days across the nation.

Stokes is running against Rick Barcena, Mike Suarez, Tom Slaughter & Guido Maniscalco.

You might recall last fall when HART announced that, as a way to encourage Hillsborough County voters to get off their keisters and actually participate in American democracy, they would offer free rides to customers with a valid voter registration card on Election Day.

But Tea Party activists and others were angry upon hearing that news, suggesting that with the huge penny transit tax on the ballot that would boost revenues for HART to build a light rail system and increase bus service, the transportation agency was trying to "buy off" voters.

Among the loudest critics was anti-transit tax enthusiast Doug Guetzloe, who told the St. Pete Times that the promotion was a  "blatant attempt" to buy off voters, saying:

"I have no evidence of this, but there's no doubt in my mind there's going to be distribution of materials on the buses. We're going to be watching for that."

Apparently Guetzloe was dead wrong, as HART's Marcia Meija informs CL that no such distribution of materials was made by anyone from HART last November.

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