NextGen and Lyft bring Mayflower students to the polls

Lyft is partnering with NextGen Iowa to offer free round-trip rides to Mayflower residents, who have a different polling location than other residence hall residents.



Chicago taxi and ride-share drivers have joined forces to try to limit the number of Uber and Lyft cars in the city. (Richard B. Levine/Sipa USA/TNS)

Kate Pixley, News Reporter

NextGen will partner with Lyft to give Mayflower residents free round-trip rides to their polling place on Election Day.

While the polling place for all other residence halls is the Main Library, Mayflower’s location places its polling place at Shimek Elementary School, 1400 Grissel Place.

Emmet Sandberg, the UI organizer for NextGen Iowa, said many Mayflower students don’t know that they cannot vote at the Main Library as do other residence-hall denizens. That and the lack of free transportation to Shimek can decrease voter turnout, Sandberg said.

Lyft’s voter-transportation initiative is a national measure that the company put in place in an effort to increase voter turnout.

Lyft and NextGen will run similar campaigns at the University of Northern Iowa, Iowa State University, and Mount Mercy College.

“With past elections, people have cited transportation as one of the top reasons why they didn’t vote,” Zachary Kizer, a Lyft communications specialist, said in an email to The Daily Iowan. “That’s why this election year, we want to remove that barrier and make it easier for people across the country to exercise their right to vote. We’re committing to providing 50 [percent] of rides, and voters nationwide can visit Buzzfeed to access the promo code.”

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Uber also plans to offer discounted rides to voters across the country on Election Day.

Sandberg also noted that NextGen has encouraged students at Mayflower to vote early, a decision that would enable them to vote on spaces on or closer to campus, such as the Old Capitol Town Center and the Iowa City Public Library.

“It’s actually new to a lot of folks that they can vote early and that they can register to vote on Election Day,” Sandberg said.

Sandberg, a UI graduate, said that while NextGen is not a university-sanctioned group, its members do a lot of outreach work on campus in an effort to get people registered to vote.

Sandberg said he and fellow NextGen workers and volunteers often set up booths on public campus spaces.

“[We just like to] maintain a presence on campus to keep students informed about where, why, and how they vote,” Sandberg said. “We’ve committed 4,300 students to vote and registered about 2,600 [students] on campus.”

There are other transportation options for students and area residents to access the polls.

Cambuses will operate regularly, but people can take the Red, Interdorm, and Hawkeye Interdorm routes if their polling place is located at or near the Main Library, as well as routes that stop at the nearby Communications Center.

Iowa City Transit buses will run free routes on Election Day, reflecting a nationwide movement to increase voter turnout and access to the polls.

The city buses will run through the polling hours. Riders will not need to pay, show a pass, or provide proof of voter registration.

Darian Nagle-Gamm, the Iowa City transportation director, previously told The Daily Iowan that she hopes free transit will help eliminate transportation as a reason that people don’t vote.

“We want to help use public resources to lessen [the barrier to get to the polls],” Nagle-Gamm said. “We’re using a public service to facilitate the greatest public service.”