Last month, former first lady Michelle Obama returned to the political arena with a new initiative designed to encourage more Americans to vote. Now, Obama's nonpartisan registration drive — "When We All Vote" — has partnered with Lyft to offer discounted rides on Election Day, in order to make voting more accessible.
According to Business Insider, Lyft is offering a 50 percent off promotion on rides voters take to the polls on Nov. 6. And for "underserved communities that face significant obstacles to transportation," Lyft will go one step further by offering them free rides.
In a statement announcing the promotion on Thursday, Lyft estimated that 15 million registered voters were unable to vote in the 2016 elections due to transportation issues. It also indicated that it would be working with Vote.org, Nonprofit Vote, and other voting campaigns to distribute promotion codes to voters who needed them, as well as with nonpartisan organizations like Voto Latino and the National Federation of the Blind to engage underserved communities.
But providing discounted rides isn't all Lyft is doing to prepare for Election Day. The rideshare company is also partnering with National Voter Registration Day and the Obama-backed When We All Vote to provide additional services to voters, such as reminders about voter registration deadlines and comprehensive, online voter information.
According to The Hill, voters will be able to use the 50 percent discount on rides to the polls, but not on their return journeys. Lyft is also trying to make it easier for its own employees to vote by offering in-office voter registration, and it plans to distribute voter registration handouts to its drivers.
This is not the first time that Lyft has gotten involved with initiatives to make voting more accessible. Earlier this summer, Los Angeles County partnered with both Uber and Lyft to get voters to the polls during the California primaries. But now that the rideshare company's service is available in all 50 states, Mike Masserman, Lyft’s head of social impact, told Fortune that 95 percent of the American population will have access to these Election Day promotions.
According to the Pew Research Center, nonvoters are usually "younger, more racially diverse, and more financially strapped" than voters, which may explain why transportation is less readily accessible to them — and why Lyft is offering this promotion. But Masserman told Fortune that Lyft's effort to get voters to the polls is not meant to be political.
“It’s absolutely essential that we will be nonpartisan in doing this,” Masserman told Fortune. “We want to make sure everyone’s voice is heard in this election.”
Obama's When We All Vote initiative, meanwhile, is also intended to be nonpartisan. However, she and her husband reportedly believe that getting more people out to vote will ultimately benefit the Democrats. Partnering with Lyft is just one way in which the campaign aims to engage voters; it also plans to educate them on candidates at every level of government, encourage dialogue around elections, and reach out to potential voters both personally and online.