The Car Barrier to Voting

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“The size of the barrier to participation that results from a lack of car access is larger than many other hindrances to turnout, such as registration or voter ID laws.”

-Justin de Benedictis-Kessner

Professor, Harvard Kennedy School

3 out of 4 eligible voters without a car don’t vote in-person*

Voter participation is a fundamental component of maintaining a democracy. Every eligible voter must have the opportunity to cast their ballot.

The greater the participation, the stronger the mandate for a government to lead on policy. But whose voice is heard at the ballot box creates inequality in representation.

 

Socioeconomic status and systemic voter suppression has been a common explanation for low voter turnout. But there is a critical component that overlaps this explanation: new research shows that the “lack of access to a car depresses voter turnout by substantively large amounts” (Benedictis-Kessner, 2021).

“Access to a car has a substantial impact on the ability to vote.”*

*"Driving Turnout: The Effect of Car Ownership on Electoral Participation,” by J. de Benedictis-Kessner, and M. Palmer.

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The Data

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“Access to cars creates inequalities in access to voting” (Benedictis-Kessner, 2021). Many voters have access to either a car or reliable public transportation. Other eligible voters lack both methods; nearly 9% of households do not have a car. And those who lack access to or cannot afford reliable transportation are most often People of Color, younger adults, and those with a lower-income. Access to cars can explain a large portion of socioeconomic-, race-, and age- based disparities in voter participation.

 

New research from the Harvard Kennedy School shows that in the 2018 general election, 66% of registered voters with a car voted, while only 36% of those without a car voted–a difference of 30 percentage points. Of those who voted, 40% of people with access to a car voted in-person, while only 24% of those without access to a car voted in-person. This difference of 16 percentage points represents a 68% increase of in-person turnout for those with access to a car over those without. 

 

Access to a car should not determine who can participate in our democracy.

“Gaining access to a car can increase the probability of a voter participating by at least 1/3rd.” 

-Justin de Benedictis-Kessner

Professor, Harvard Kennedy School

OUR CAMPAIGN

Uber Rides to the Polls

With an exclusive partnership with Uber,

Plus1Vote will increase Midterm Election turnout through targeted rides to the polls in 11 States.

 

As part of our goal to mobilize a record number of voters in the 2022 Midterm Elections, Plus1Vote has expanded its previous campaign to provide free, round-trip rides to the polls for early and election day voting to 11 states.

Statewide in 5 battleground states:

Arizona | Georgia | Ohio

Pennsylvania | Wisconsin

Targeted counties in 6 states:

Florida | Iowa | Kentucky

Nevada | North Carolina | Texas

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Statewide

Targeted Counties

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In a first-of-its-kind, all rides will be

geofenced to polling locations; the ride must begin or end at a voting location.

 

Voucher for a free, round-trip ride to the polls

 

Voters can enter the voucher code “Vote2022” in the Uber app or use the Voucher Link to receive paid-in-full, roundtrip transportation to polling locations.

Resources for this campaign can be found at plus1rides.vote.

 

Direct message targeted voters

 

Through Uber in-app notifications, texts, and emails, Plus1Vote will offer the voucher directly to targeted voters who do not have a car in their household, as well as those who are lower-income, young adults, or People of Color.

 

Media + Messaging

 

Plus1Vote’s social media campaigns reached 1.2 billion impressions for the 2020 Elections. For 2022 we will create a social media blitz across TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter. 

 

Through a coalition of celebrities, influencers, and nonprofits, we will distribute our Social Media Toolkits. These educate our network partners about the program and instruct them on how to post assets and messaging. Voters will be directed to the offer and voting resources.

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