Uber, Lyft, and local organizations offer free rides to polling stations

Oxford citizens, as well as Uber and Lyft drivers, are offering free or discounted rides to polling stations on Election Day to increase voter turnout.

In a survey reported by Citylab, 14 percent of nonvoters cited transportation as a major reason for not going to the polls. They also stated that among nonvoters under 30 years old, this number rose to 29 percent.

“I think offering rides will help get people to the polls,” Alyssa Goodman, a junior at Ole Miss who is planning to offer rides, said. “It reminds them that it’s Election Day and that others are going to vote, so they should, too. It also gives them an easy way to get there.”

In the beginning of October, Uber announced that they would be offering free rides to polling stations on Election Day as part of their “Get to the Polls” initiative. 

“They’re not gonna get us to do it for free — the Uber will pay for it,” said Jonathan Webb, a local Uber driver and Ole Miss student. “It might get more people to go vote than normal. We don’t get any extra money or anything like that, we get the satisfaction of bringing people to the polls.”

Once users type in their address, Uber will automatically identify their designated polling station.

“Uber’s promotional tactics will get more people using them tomorrow, which is a great marketing strategy” Denzel Francis, another local Uber driver, said.

Lyft will also be offering 50 percent off rides to polling stations. Mississippians can use the promo code VOTEMS to access this.

Students like Alyssa Goodman plans to join her friends in picking up fellow students on campus, as well as at their friends’ houses, to get them to the polls.

“Offering rides is a great way to increase voter turnout,” Goodman said. “But also be careful if you are offering rides to strangers.”

Arami Harris, who is canvassing for Lafayette County Blue Wave, asked residents if they would have rides to the polling stations, and found that having to leave work was often their reason for not driving to the polls.

“After all, [citizens] are more than likely have to work,” Harris said. “That was the problem we ran into when we would re-knock on the doors that didn’t answer the first time. There is a large percentage I feel that are not voting because they don’t have the time to do so.”

Harris also said that everyone she had met while canvassing said they had a way to the polls or had early voted, only allotted to those over age 65 or who have a disability in Mississippi. Early voting tends to eliminate the problem of getting people to the polls, by increasing participation by about 2 to 4 percent, according to the Center for American Progress.

“I believe that if there were early voting, lower income residents would be allotted a chance to vote,” Harris said.

For those looking for alternative rides to the polls, Cathy Marshall-Smith of Ms Cathy Services will be offering rides from noon to 7 pm and can be contacted at 662-816-7572. Lafayette County Democrats are also offering rides to the polls and can contact 901-692-2401 for a ride.

Lafayette county voters can go to the polling station at the Oxford Park Commission Center, at 310 S. 15th Street, behind the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council building and next to Newk’s Eatery. Voting starts at 7 am and runs to 7 pm. The Local Voice suggests going mid-morning or mid-afternoon when voting is slower.

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