Kansas Citians that don't have a way to get to the polls on Election Day can look to public transportation and ride-sharing companies for free or discounted rides to the polls.
Offering free and discounted transportation to polls has become one effort of many to increase voter turnout on Election Day.
According to a study from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, about 15 million people did not vote in the 2016 election because they couldn’t get to their polling location. An analysis from the Pew Research Center found that one of the top 10 reasons people did not vote in 2016 was because of a lack of transportation.
The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority is offering riders free trips on any Ride KC route serving Kansas City, Johnson County, Wyandotte County and Independence. Local nonprofit and advocacy group BikeWalkKC is also partnering with the KCATA to offer free bike rides to the polls, through its BCycle program.
KCATA CEO Robbie Makinen said this year is the fourth time Ride KC has offered free rides on Election Day.
“We’re just trying to tear down the barriers for anyone that needs to exercise their right to vote,” he said. “And we want to make sure we get everybody out there.”
Uber users can receive $10 off on a single ride to a polling location using the most affordable option available on the service. To receive the discount, users must enter the promo code “VOTE2018” in the app and then use Uber’s polling place locator to request a ride.
Lime, which first introduced its scooters to Kansas City in September, is offering free rides up to 30 minutes to users through the code LIME2VOTE18. People who use ZipCar from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday night can also receive a $20 discount on a future trip.
Lyft is working with voting advocacy organizations like Vote.org and Nonprofit Vote to provide 50 percent off rides with a promo code they can access through Buzzfeed.
Lyft is also partnering with groups like Voto Latino, the National Federation of the Blind, League of Women Voters and others to provide free rides to underserved communities. Voto Latino is currently working with Lyft to offer free trips to voters in Dodge City — an area that is majority Latino — where the only polling place is located outside of the city limits and is inaccessible through public transportation.
Voto Latino COO Jessica Reeves said the organization is prepared to offer, depending on demand, as many as a thousand rides on Election Day to Dodge City residents. She said Dodge City voters who need a ride to the polling location can text “VoteDodge” to 73179 to receive a promo code they can put into the Lyft app to receive free roundtrip transportation to the polls up to $30.
“I think this points to a bigger issue not just in Dodge City but across the country, where there are obstacles for folks to get out and vote, not only during early voting but on Election Day,” she said. “And we really really should all be working to make civic participation — and our civic duty of voting — easier, not harder.”
Advocacy St. Francis Xavier, the Jesuit parish in Kansas City, is also offering trips to the polls. Office manager Peggy Beaven Calia said this volunteer service is open to anyone but helps many of the elderly members of the parish.
“It’s not always easy for them to go out and vote,” she said. “So if we can make it a little bit easier for them so they can exercise their right to vote, it’s great.”
In addition, the NAACP is offering free transportation to the polls between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Tuesday. To set up a ride through this service, voters can call (816) 421-1191.
Celisa Calacal is an intern at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her at @celisa_mia.