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Ahead of election, Lyft CEO details companys newest efforts to boost voter turnout

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(NEW YORK) — Ahead of the upcoming election in November, the popular ride-sharing service Lyft announced a partnership that its CEO said he hopes continues the company’s mission to bring more people — especially younger voters — to the polls.

Lyft CEO David Risher told ABC News in an interview that ahead of the upcoming election, he wanted to increase the company’s footprint when it comes to increasing voter turnout.

“One of the most important things you can do to keep the community active and engaged is to make sure they have easy access to the polls,” Risher said in the company’s Washington, D.C., office.

That includes a partnership between Lyft and Levi Strauss & Co., Showtime and MTV to launch a new non-partisan initiative to increase voting among community college students.

The new initiative, the Community College Commitment, comes as community colleges’ enrollments are expected to swell over the next seven years. The National Center for Education Statistics said that by 2031, enrollment in two-year institutions is projected to increase from 4.7 million students in the fall of 2021 to 5.3 million students by fall 2031. The Community College Commitment aims to increase voter turnout by 500,000 new voters by 2028.

Starting good voting habits when you’re young is important, Risher said, and one of the reasons the partnership is targeting college students.

“If you start voting when you’re young, it becomes part of your life. It’s a habit to build,” Risher said.

The Community College Commitment works to address that effort through a Get Out The Vote community college competition, which will allow community colleges that host registration drives and voter education events to be entered into a competition to have a live on-campus concert on Oct. 29 to coincide with Vote Early Day.

Also, Lyft announced earlier this week that it will offer discounted rides to the polls on Election Day — a move it has made in previous years as well.

For Lyft, focusing on voting access has been a decadelong effort, Risher said. Back in 2014, the ride-share company began focusing on voting access to the polls, which it says has helped more than 3 million people vote over the past decade.

“For me, it was more about doubling down on something we’re already pretty good at,” Risher said of the company’s ability to transport people via ride-share, bikes and scooters all in one app.

Lyft has several other initiatives that the company hopes will increase voter turnout. For the election in November, Lyft will be working with several nonprofit organizations to get voters to the polls through the distribution of special ride codes to people in their respective networks who are in need of transportation. One of the nonprofit organizations is the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

National Director of the NAACP Youth & College Division Wisdom Cole said in a statement to ABC News that “it is crucial that college students have access to the tools they need to bring their power to the polls.”

“The reality is, many young people, especially young Black people, are disenfranchised by a lack of basic knowledge and resources,” Cole said. “That’s why we’re proud to continue partnering with Lyft to ensure that obstacles such as transportation do not become barriers to casting an effective ballot.”

In addition to ride-sharing plans, Lyft will work with partners such as the League of Women Voters, When We All Vote and VoteRiders to help riders, drivers and Lyft team members register to vote and educate them on voting ID requirements. Additionally, Lyft employees will be able to volunteer to become poll workers.

“There’s a great saying, which is ‘if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together,"” Risher said. “So you find coalitions that can advance whatever it is you’re trying to get done to impact the world.”

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