Getting to the polls can be an obstacle for many American voters. Thirty-five percent of youth who didn't go to college say a lack of transportation was why they didn't vote in the 2016 election, according to The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.
Ride-hailing service Lyft said Thursday that it wants to help tackle the problem by offering half-priced rides across the country during this year's midterm elections. Riders can enter location-based codes into the Lyft app to access the discounted rides.
"It's about using our voice and our platform to make sure folks have access to go vote," said Mike Masserman, Lyft's head of Social Impact.
The US midterm elections will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Lyft will also offer free rides to people from underserved communities, who are more likely to report transportation barriers. Lyft will provide the codes through nonpartisan, nonprofit groups like Voto Latino and the Urban League, which will then either distribute the codes to people they work with or use Lyft's Concierge service to order a ride for someone.
"We rely on their expertise to know who needs a ride to the poll and when they need that ride," Masserman said.
Lyft is also launching an effort to help riders and drivers register to vote. From now until Sept. 25, the service will give drivers handouts with voter registration information at Lyft Hub locations, and will also remind passengers about voter registration deadlines on social media. Then, between Sept. 25 and Election Day, Lyft will partner with organizations like TurboVote, When We All Vote and Vote.org to provide people with information on how to vote early or by mail. The company will also share information on how to schedule a ride through the service for Election Day.
Former first lady Michelle Obama tweeted about the partnership Thursday, saying: "We can each do our part to help all eligible voters make their voices heard in this upcoming election and every election. And I'm thrilled that companies like @Lyft are working with @WhenWeAllVote to get people registered & out to vote this November."
Over the past few years, Lyft has worked to cast itself as the "good guy" by participating in similar social good efforts. In 2016, it launched its Concierge service, which provides patients with rides to nonemergency medical appointments. In June, it began offering cancer patients in major US cities free rides to and from treatment. The company also provided earlier this year.
In May, Lyft expanded its Relief Rides program, which gives people free trips during natural disasters or crises. Itover the next year to offer free rides to low-income people and veterans who need transportation to things like job interviews and doctor appointments.
First published Aug. 23, 5 a.m. PT
Update, Aug. 24 at 9:41 a.m.: Adds Michelle Obama's tweet.
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