Uber is giving free rides to the polls on Election Day in an effort to increase participation in the democratic process.
Anyone using the app on Nov. 6 will see a “Get to the Polls” button pop up on their screen when they launch the app. Uber is partnering with #VoteTogether and Democracy Works; The two organizations will provide promo codes for riders to redeem the free rides. In addition, Uber will also offer $10 off a single ride to the polls on Election Day via the most affordable Uber option available in a given city. Residents of Utah and Michigan aren’t eligible because of restrictions on discounted transportation on Election Day.
"Using our technology and resources, we can help make it easier for every Uber rider in the U.S. to get to their polling place at the push of a button," CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a press release.
Uber states the program’s goal is to “help the millions of Americans who cite transportation barriers as the reason they don’t vote.”
Uber previously ran a campaign to help their customers register to vote.
Uber’s Election Day campaign helps turn out the vote of those who do not own a vehicle or have access to transportation. This predominantly affects urbanites and low-income voters, both of which tend to vote Democrat. Uber is also popular among millennials, another Democratic stronghold, as users age 16-34 make up two-thirds of Uber's U.S. clientele. On the contrary, it's free-market conservatives that have fought for Uber's right to exist in cities where taxi companies have tried to maintain a monopoly.
Does this represent the left-leaning ways of tech companies, or is this just good citizenship? Truthfully, it’s hard to tell.
Lyft, on the other hand, is making their partisan stance a bit more clear. The ride-hailing company is offering only 50 percent off on Nov. 6 for all voters but is giving free rides to "underserved communities that face significant obstacles to transportation," according to a statement. Lyft is partnering with multiple organizations including “When We All Vote,” which is backed by former first lady Michelle Obama.
One flaw in both companies’ plan is that riders can only get a discount on their way to the polls but not on the ride back home. Perhaps those truly facing a financial challenge in getting to the polls should skip the ride share altogether and order an absentee ballot.
Alexander James is a contributor to Red Alert Politics and a freelance journalist.