Voters in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District who need a ride to the polls can get one for free thanks to a super PAC raising thousands of dollars to make sure locals get a chance to vote.
The push from My Ride to Vote to get 6th District voters to the polls for free is coming after a similar national effort last year for the presidential election.
This time, however, it’s all about Georgia ahead of the nationally watched June 20 runoff election between Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff.
“Our mission is to make sure every citizen has an equal ability and right to participate in the political process,” said Ben Leiner, My Ride to Vote’s executive director.
Here’s how it works: 6th District voters can text “VOTEGA” to 38470 to get a promo code for a free ride to and from the polls. They then access the ride from the Uber app, which they must download if they don’t already have it.
The money to pay for the rides is coming from My Ride to Vote, which is raising money toward the project using the crowdsourcing site Crowdpac. Uber itself is not providing free rides or making any sort of political endorsement.
My Ride to Vote, too, is not making any political endorsement. If you have the promo code and are a voter who lives in the district, you’re good.
As of Tuesday afternoon, My Ride to Vote (www.myridetovote.org) had raised more than $33,600 of its $100,000 goal to pay for at least 4,000 rides to the polls.
Leiner said the overarching idea is to promote voter turnout and remove obstacles toward voting.
My Ride to Vote is also working with several voter advocacy groups to get the word out to voters about the service, including Voto Latino, the New Georgia Project and the left-leaning Georgia Engaged, which is a coalition of progressive organizations in the state.
“We offer rides to any voter who needs one, regardless of their political views,” Leiner said. “We’ve partnered with progressive organizations in the district simply because they are in contact with the voters who most need rides.”
Nse Ufot, the executive director of the New Georgia Project, said the group has been handing out notecards with information about how to use the service, although it is too soon to say how many voters will take advantage of it.
The group began as an offshoot of efforts by state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta, to increase political participation in minority communities. Ufot said those communities could benefit from the ride service, especially with early in-person voting for the 6th District race starting next week.
“The district is known historically for being upper middle class, but there are working-class folks moving into the district,” Ufot said. “This is timely.”
My Ride to Vote initially launched last year to promote voting in states including Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania ahead of the presidential election. It was supposed to be a one-off project, with an estimated 24,725 voters catching a ride to the polls last year.
Founded by Silicon Valley investors Marc Porat and Adam Berke as well as Anna Soellner, formerly of the Center for American Progress, the project has now been taken over by Leiner and Taylor Erwin — both graduates of Emory University — who are using the runoff as the organization’s first foray into a local race.
Leiner, who’s based in Washington and will be entering business school in the fall at the University of Virginia, and Erwin, who works in Atlanta at the digital advertising agency Look Listen, are two of four people now driving the project, plus a couple of interns. None were involved with the effort last year, although Porat, Berke and Soellner remain on the organization’s board.
All four also have other full-time jobs, but “we’re all just in the mind-set of this being a great opportunity,” Leiner said of the revamped My Ride to Vote. “All eyes are on Atlanta.”