Much has been made recently about the good deed being offered by two of America’s most popular ridesharing services. Uber and Lyft have both announced that they are going to give voters in the midterm elections rides to the polls on Tuesday, November 6.
But what Uber and Lyft aren’t saying, at least not as loud, is that those free rides to the polling stations are one way. In other words, once you take one of these companies up on their offer, they won’t take you back home — for free, at least.
What you need to know about those free Uber & Lyft rides to the polls
When Team Clark asked Uber whether they would also transport voters back to their homes or other desired destinations after voting, we were referred to this update on Uber’s website, which says: “This promotional offer is not available for rides from polling locations and is not available at all in Michigan, Puerto Rico, or other US territories.”
Team Clark reached out to Lyft, as well, about the free rides. A Lyft spokeswoman replied via email that free or discounted transportation back from the polls could be construed as a gift for voting.
“The ride only covers the way there. Voting is every citizen’s right, which means there are a number of regulations in place to protect against voter fraud or buying someone’s vote. There are strict rules against gifts or incentives, and providing free or discounted transportation back from the polls falls into that category,” she wrote.
The reason why this is significant is because both companies cited lack of transportation for many would-be voters as their reason for taking people to the polls in the first place. Once they vote, those same people will immediately face the same transit woes they had initially.
Both Lyft and Uber are partnering with a number of nonprofit organizations to get people to the polls. It is unknown whether those groups — or any other — will be able to take those voters back home.
The big takeaway here is not to discourage you from doing your civic duty by any means, but rather to know before you go.