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Photo by Karina Lujan/KUT

How to get a free or cheap ride to go vote in the Austin area

Tuesday, November 8, 2022 by Nathan Bernier, KUT

You shouldn’t need a car to cast a ballot, but in a car-centric city like Austin, sometimes transportation is the biggest obstacle to voting. Lack of access to a car depresses turnout most among young voters and non-white voters, according to researchers at Harvard.

So here are some free or discounted ways to get to a polling station besides walking or rolling.

Capital Metro is waiving fares on all services Tuesday to help people get to the polls. Travis County has 167 polling locations, and the Travis County clerk says 60 are within a five-minute walk from a Capital Metro bus stop.

All Capital Metro’s bus, rail and pickup services are freeon election day. Even the bike rental service MetroBike is gratis with the promo code BIKETOVOTE2022. You can use the transit agency’s trip planner to plot your course.

Round Rock, which contracts with Capital Metro to provide transit service, is giving people free bus rides to the polls. That includes Round Rock’s paratransit service.

The Capital Area Rural Transportation System, or CARTS, is offering free rides on election day. Country Bus rides need to be scheduled 24 hours in advance by calling 512-478-RIDE. But you can use the on-demand service CARTS Now, available in Bastrop, Taylor, Lockhart and Marble Falls, to get a ride to the polls using the promo code EARLYVOTE2022. CARTS is not offering free rides on its Interurban Regional routes.

Voters enter a polling station at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum during the last day of early voting in Austin. Four people are entering a building with signs outside that say "VOTE AQUI HERE."

Alyssa Olvera /KUT. Travis County polls are open on election day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. As long as you’re in line before 7 p.m., you can cast a ballot.

The ride-hailing company Lyft is giving customers 50 percent off rides to and from the polls. The maximum discount is $10 with the promo code VOTE22.

Lyft is also working with nonprofits like the League of Women Voters, Warrior Scholar Project, NAACP and LULAC to provide codes for free or sharply discounted rides.

Uber is not offering voters any discounted rides on election day, but the company is giving election workers free trips to and from polling stations. Election workers can get the ride coupons by registering on the poll worker recruitment site PowerThePolls.org.

Candidates or political parties will often drive you to the voting booth if they think it will help them. Democrats have taken this to a new level by creating a service called RideShare2Vote. Voters who support Democratic or progressive candidates can catch a free ride. Of course, your ballot is secret in the privacy of a voting booth.

In Texas, if you can get to the polling station but a physical disability prevents you from going inside, you may ask to vote curbside. The election officer can bring a ballot to you at the curb. Travis County’s clerk asks that when arriving at the polling station you call (512) 238-VOTE (8683) or (512) 854-4996.

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.

The Austin Monitor’s work is made possible by donations from the community. Though our reporting covers donors from time to time, we are careful to keep business and editorial efforts separate while maintaining transparency. A complete list of donors is available here, and our code of ethics is explained here.

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