Don’t Let Transportation Prevent You From Voting This Election Day
"Deciding to vote, and how to vote, is an important step, and logistics shouldn’t get in the way."
Participation in the 2018 midterm elections should be higher than it’s been for decades.
According to a report in Time, Democratic, Republican and independent political analysts are all expecting turnout to approach 50 percent — a level not seen for a midterm since the 1960s. Steep partisan divides are motivating millions of people to head to the polls, and many who have never voted in a midterm before.
If they can, that is.
Voting is not easy for many citizens — namely, those who face socioeconomic and financial barriers. If a person doesn’t have access to a vehicle or is struggling to take time off work, how are they supposed to get to the polls? The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) estimated that over 15 million people were registered but didn’t vote in 2016 because of transportation issues.
This issue can particularly affect young citizens, who are often criticized for not getting out and voting. The prevailing assumption is they’re uninterested, but in reality, many can’t physically get to the polls. CIRCLE also found that 30 percent of registered youth cited inadequate transportation as the reason they didn’t vote.
Barriers like these are just more examples of how political leaders don’t understand the challenges of people living paycheck-to-paycheck.
“Money is a strong influence in politics,” said Earnin Founder Ram Palaniappan in a recent blog post. “It’s easy to get frustrated with the direction our country is going and to feel helpless to steer it.”
The only way to change that system, however, is to vote. A single vote may seem like it doesn’t matter, but it does, especially when people come together to stand up for their shared values. Deciding to vote, and how to vote, is an important step, and logistics shouldn’t get in the way.
Earnin recently gathered data from its users, most of whom live paycheck-to-paycheck, and found that rideshare services are not used frequently among them. Only 22 percent of their community uses Uber, the market leader, with rides averaging $12 a trip.
This further emphasizes how affordable transportation is a challenge for many. The good news this election season is that companies, like Uber, are offering discounted and free rides for voters facing transportation issues. Uber partnered with #VoteTogether and Democracy Works and on November 6 will have a “Polls” button in the Uber app to take people to the polls.
Lyft and Lime are also running campaigns to get people to the polls. Lyft is providing 50 percent off or up to $5 off rides across the country and free rides to communities "that face significant obstacles to transportation." Lime is offering its fleet of shared bikes, e-bikes and e-scooters for a free ride to and from polling locations as well. These campaigns demonstrate how companies can use the resources at their disposal to make a difference.
Ultimately, no-one should be discouraged or prevented from voting, even if they are strapped for cash. This election season, don’t let transportation be a barrier to participation in the democratic process. At Earnin, we are committed to amplifying the voices of people without a financial cushion and ensuring they have the support they need to improve their own lives, as well as their country.