For many Americans in densely populated regions of the country, finding and getting to a polling site on Election Day is relatively easy, but for a large swath of the population, particularly those that live in rural areas, the task isn't as easy. Ride-share company Lyft is again working to ensure that prospective voters can exercise their civic duty by offering discounted rides for the fourth election cycle in a row.
The 2016 presidential election was the first time Lyft started offering discounted rides to the polls. At the time, about 15 million people were registered to vote but did not because of a lack of transportation to the polls, according to a Tufts University survey. Today, between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. local time, Lyft users that are headed to the polls can get a 50 percent discount (up to $10) on car rides, scooters, or bikes by using the code VOTE22.
It's an initiative the company hopes to continue as the U.S. faces future elections.
"We have done it in the past, and we're really proud of this work. And enabling transportation access is a big priority for the company. I'm hopeful that we will continue to prioritize this in many years to come," Lisa Boyd, the head of social impact at Lyft, told Cheddar News.
Even with the discount, there are still a number of Americans who face barriers when seeking transportation to and from polling locations. To offset that financial barrier, Lyft linked up with various nonprofit organizations to cover the remaining cost for those riders. Partner organizations include Warrior Scholar Project, League of Women Voters, United Latin American Citizens, and the NAACP, among others.
"In general, those organizations provide higher value ride codes to ensure we really cover the full cost of individuals to get to and from the polls. And we often, with those partners, cover early voting and even primary voting as well," Boyd said. "We feel like, both with the public code and the nonprofit partner, we have been able to really provide access and decrease barriers for people reaching the polls."
Boyd also said the campaign isn't about marketing or monetary gain, stating that if the company is able to help at all, then the program is deemed a success.
"We do, of course, measure the number of people taking rides, but more importantly, I think we're looking for the qualitative feedback that we receive from riders, from drivers who help people get to the polls, and from our nonprofit partners who tell us how important this was for them. Yes, it is valuable for this to happen at scale, but even if we can help one person get to the polls that otherwise wouldn't have been able to, that is a win," she said.
Headline updated November 8, 2022 to clarify that Lyft views this program as "a win" for voter access, not for the company itself.