The nation’s two largest rideshare companies, Uber and Lyft, announced plans Tuesday to offer discounted rides to polling places or ballot drop boxes, as the logistics of voting in the midst of a global pandemic garner almost as much attention as the choice of candidates.
Lyft said users will receive a promo code valid on November 3 for 50% off, up to a maximum of $10, for a one-way Lyft car or scooter ride, or a Lyft-operated bikeshare ride to a polling place anywhere in the U.S. with Lyft service, including registered drop box locations for some voters who live in states that favor mail-in voting.
Lyft also will work with nonprofit groups, including the Black Women’s Roundtable, the National Federation of the Blind and the Student Veterans of America, to offer free rides; those groups will distribute the codes within their communities.
Uber, which plans to announce its Election Day discount in October, said it has teamed up with TurboVote to help people register to vote or request an absentee ballot through the Uber and Uber Eats apps; it plans to send a reminder push notification in the U.S., but said it will not have access to information about the user’s party affiliation.
Bike and scooter-sharing company Lime has announced plans to provide free, socially-distant scooter rides on Election Day in all U.S. cities where Lime operates, reprising the “Lime to the Polls” initiative it undertook during the mid-term elections in 2018, when 10% of all Election Day rides used the promo code for the campaign, the company said.
The United States lags behind many developed nations in voter turnout, according to the Pew Research Center, which said just over half of the U.S. voting-age population — nearly 56% — cast ballots in the 2016 presidential election. That represents a slight uptick compared with 2012 but was a lower rate than in the record year of 2008. In 2016, 14% of eligible voters described transportation issues as a barrier to voting, according to Uber. Normal transportation woes could be even greater this year, as some voters will be wary of taking public transportation in the age of Covid-19. Given the narrow margin by which President Trump claimed victory in some states in 2016, both sides have made getting voters to the polls this year a top priority.