Why It’s Illegal to Take an Uber to Vote During a Michigan Election
It's still unbelievable to me the "safeguards" put in place during an election, that end up actually hurting the voting public. Obviously, as an American, in a democracy, it's important to have the ability to vote, even when the odds are against you - work, family, etc.
But Sometimes, getting to your polling place can be one of the most difficult steps for some residents, and unfortunately, one of the most convenient ways to travel now, is illegal when it comes to election day.
Michigan will take part in the general election this coming Tuesday, Nov. 7, and while there aren't a LOT of issues on the ballot in west Michigan, it's still important to get out and vote - ESPECIALLY when it comes to picking your local leaders.
But something not many people know is, if you need to get to an election polling place, you're allowed to drive yourself, ride with someone else, or take a bus or taxi... but it is currently ILLEGAL to take an Uber or Lyft to a polling location.
Yes, the most popular form of transportation outside of your own vehicle right now is forbidden from taking you to an election polling place. In fact, if you're caught, it's a misdemeanor offense, and you could face jail time because of it.
The law as it stands now, says...
"Any voter who is physically able to walk cannot hire a vehicle to take them to vote. Only the voter is at risk of prosecution, not the driver. The harshest penalty is 90 days in prison, and a $500 fine."
The argument could be made, then, that people who have their own private drivers, or chauffeurs, are at risk of the same fate, since they hire their drivers to drive them places, right? And what about taxis, or busses? There's some gray area here that make this murky waters to tread through.
But soon, that could change, and will become much clearer.
New House Bill Would Allow for Uber and Lyft Rides to Vote
Governor Gretchen Whitmer is set to sign House Bill 4568 soon, that would get rid of the previous law, and allow for voters to hire drivers to get them to polling places.
In recent years, election polling locations have begun to disappear, and even if there is plenty of spots to do so, some of them can be miles away, and walking just isn't possible for some to get there.
The Bill passed the State House and Senate with votes along party lines, all Republicans voting "no," and all Democrats voting "yes."
The Secretary of State, Jocelyn Benson issued a statement following the passing of the bill.
"Every Michigander deserves equal access to the ballot. The state's longstanding ban on hired transportation to the polls unfairly restricted the voting rights of seniors, people with disabilities, young voters, and anyone with transportation challenges."
The new bill should be signed soon by Gov. Whitmer, and will go into effect in time for the 2024 elections.
Kalamazoo Pride Pics of the Past
Gallery Credit: TSM Dana