Fourteen percent of eligible U.S. voters said getting to the polls in the 2016 presidential election was a barrier to voting, according to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology survey. The survey was based on over 10,000 interviews of registered voters in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Voter organizations hope to overcome those barriers by using rideshare networks to get people to the polls. Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, tweeted on Election Day that Virginians who need rides can call 1-866-443-2678. The Democratic Party of Virginia is using Lyft to help transport voters, according to Grant Fox, communications director with DPV. Voters can call the number and a volunteer will help coordinate the ride. Rides are good within Lyft service areas.
Before noon on Election Day, over 100 rides had been scheduled using the number, according to Fox. He said service need has been high in Hampton Roads so far. This is the first year the program has been offered.
To promote the Latino vote, grassroots organization Voto Latino partnered with Lyft to offer free rides up to $25 to the polls. More than 5% of eligible voters in Virginia are Latinos. With the code “VLF2020,” voters can search their polling location in the Lyft app to access their free ride.
In Richmond, the GRTC transit system is offering free rides during the COVID-19 pandemic and on Election Day. GRTC used free shuttles to help passengers get to the relocated registrar’s office during the early voting period. Hampton Roads Transit system is not collecting fares on Election Day, the organization said in a tweet. Blacksburg Transit in Southwest Virginia also is promoting free service on Election Day, according to its website. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority won’t be offering discounted or free rides on Tuesday, a media relations representative said in a Twitter message.
For those who have the app and want to request a ride, Uber and Lyft are offering 50% off rides on Election Day. Uber riders can use the in-app poll locator, select their poll and the discount will automatically apply. Lyft riders can use the code “2020VOTE” to access a discounted ride. Rideshare users can receive a max discount of $14 roundtrip with Uber and up to $10 discount on a Lyft ride.
Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.