Nov. 8 is Election Day in the United States.
In 2016, the Pew Research Center found that 3% of voters said they did not vote because of transportation issues. A Harvard study from 2020 also found that lack of car access on Election Day “creates the largest hindrance to voting for those people who live farther from the polls, for young voters, and for non-white voters.”
Online searches show that many people are wondering if they can get free rides to their polling place this Election Day. A VERIFY viewer also sent a text to our team asking if rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft can offer free rides on Election Day.
Is it legal for businesses or organizations to offer free rides to the polls?
Yes, it’s legal in most states for businesses or organizations to offer free rides to the polls.
WHAT WE FOUND
It is legal for organizations or businesses to offer voters free rides to the polls on Election Day in most states. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) says under Regulation 114.4 that a corporation or labor organization may support or conduct voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, which includes providing transportation to the polls or to the place of registration free of charge, during election season. The FEC rules only apply when a federal candidate is on the ballot, such as during a midterm or presidential election.
Typically, it's illegal to offer freebies to people voting in federal elections, such as free food or gifts only to people who vote. But the law does not apply to transportation.
Michigan is the only state that prohibits voter advocacy organizations from paying for transportation to bring voters to the polls. Michigan law also prohibits ride-sharing companies, such as Lyft and Uber, from offering discounted rides to Michigan voters on Election Day. The law does not, however, prohibit volunteers from driving voters to the polls for free.
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This year, Lyft announced it is offering 50% off any ride to its customers on Election Day. Lyft riders can use the code VOTE22 before and after voting hours in every time zone on Nov. 8, for a discount of up to $10. This promotion is also valid in Michigan because it is not directly tied to the polls or voting, it’s simply a deal for everyone.
Meanwhile, Uber is partnering with Power the Polls to help poll workers get rides to and from their polling places from Nov. 7 to Nov. 9. The ride vouchers will cover the full cost of rides up to $200.
If you’re looking for a free ride to the polls, Rideshare2Vote helps voters in need of a ride get to their local polling facilities at no cost in nine states: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia. You can also volunteer to drive others to the polls if you live in one of those states and have a car.
Local advocacy groups in certain areas across the country also offer free rides to the polls on Election Day. Some public transportation services also offer fare-free days on federal or non-federal election days.
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