Ride-hailing companies help get voters to Mich. polls
Detroit – Ride-hailing companies are capitalizing on voter enthusiasm ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections by offering free or discounted rides to Michigan polls in shared cars, bikes and scooters.
They say they are aiming to remove what many consider a barrier to voting: lack of transportation. The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement, an organization focused on politically engaging young people, estimates more than 15 million people registered voters did not cast a ballot in 2016 because of transportation issue.
But the companies could be treading a thin legal line: State law does not permit anyone to provide anything of value as an inducement to vote or to refrain from voting, said Fred Woodhams, a spokesman for the Michigan Secretary of State office. It is up to local law enforcement and county prosecutors to enforce that statute.
Lyft is offering half-price rides up to $5 by going to BuzzFeed’s website to get a promo code. It also is working with the League of Women Voters in Detroit to provide free ride vouchers at a few affordable housing properties.
Nationally, Uber has a similar offer, though it is not available in Michigan or U.S. territories, according to its website.
Detroiters, however, can catch a ride to the poll with Uber’s partner, Lime. The electric-scooter company is offering free 30-minute rides with promo code LIME2VOTE18.
Midterm elections are often marked by low voter turnout. But political watchers are expecting voter angst over which party will control the U.S. House and Senate, as well as lingering anger by both major parties over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, to drive more Americans to cast votes.
Detroit News reporter Breana Noble and the Associated Press contributed.