Uber and Google’s Alliance For a Noble Cause, i.e. Get Voters To Polling Stations On Election Day

Zarmeen Shahzad
Posted Nov 4, 2016
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As the most awaited election draws closer, businesses are coming up with more and more ideas to cash it. Banners, mugs, t-shirts even coffee companies like Starbucks are using this Election Day spirit to their advantage. It looks like Uber isn’t far behind either. It’s always an issue finding out your polling station, getting a ride to the station and being on time. To solve this problem, Uber announced a partnership with Google on Friday. Using big data and machine language, an in app feature for Uber was developed to help Americans find their polling stations. This step was done to simplify the election process and ensure maximum voter turnout. A statement followed this announcement by Uber that it would like “to encourage all riders and drivers, regardless of political party, to register to vote.”

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How does this Uber feature work?

This feature will go live on November 8th, the Election Day. It will give the app users a notification that it’s Election Day and it will then offer the riders a way to find their respective polling stations just by clicking the “Find Your Polling Place” button. This feature uses a Google API widget that allows the app to direct the users to their polling stations based on their addresses. After this, riders can reuest for a ride to the station by clicking on “Uber to Your Polling Place.” You don’t have to worry if you are not an Uber user yet. Just sign up for an account and use the code, “VOTETODAY” and get $20 off on your first ride! If you are part of an organization or a group that wants to help Uber to get maximum voter turnout, you can donate rides through the UberEVENTS feature. This feature allows businesses and organizations to purchase rides and distribute the codes to those who want to use the ride facility.

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What do people think about this?

This is no doubt a great initiative. It may have a business motive behind but it certainly is supporting a bigger cause at the same time. According to Graham Shelby, a writer in Louisville, KY, this initiative “looks great,” and despite the fact that he never ‘Ubered’ before it helps him “feel better about Uber as an entity.” There are many others who think on the same lines and believe that this is a great initiative to help provide information to voters especially to the youth. Vincent Conitzer, professor of computer science at Duke University said, “I commend Uber and Google for their engagement with the electoral process. Of course, it remains important to make this information easily available elsewhere, because not everyone has access to this app. But the more ways there are to find one’s polling place, the better.” Susan Schneider, associate professor at the University of Connecticut is of the impression that it’s a “wonderful example of how information processing technology can be used to improve people’s lives, and empower voters who may otherwise have trouble voting. This is a close election, and every vote counts!” Uber’s competitor Lyft has joined super PAC My Ride to Vote and Voto Latino to get more people to the polling stations.

Well looks like the companies are doing what they can to bring people out of their homes to vote but we have to wait and see whether this works on the Election Day or not.

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