Legal or illegal? Lyft giving free rides to polling locations

If you're in the Austin area and you've got the Lyft app, people are seeing a little message pop up that says:

Lyft is providing free rides up to $10 to polling stations during early voting. Find your closest polling station and vote now.  (political advertisement)

Even though rides to the polls are a common practice during elections from political parties, this is a company and people are heading to the polls to vote for something that affects Lyft. So FOX 7 has been hearing from people that feel like this is just plain wrong and illegal.
   
But according to the Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir, even though she says it's making some people uncomfortable, it's not actually illegal.

DeBeauvoir says Texas Penal Code 30.02 addresses "Bribery" -- it's only illegal if you're offering a voter a direct exchange of something of value for their vote.

"What we watch for is 'well is this free ride to the polls in exchange for your vote?' And I don't think that's happening.  You know, the people might be walking right up close to the line but they're not crossing it," DeBeauvoir said.

Chelsea Wilson with Lyft says:  
Since the beginning of this effort, we have been focused on encouraging voter participation in Austin, including helping to register over 7,500 new voters in the city.  Making it easy and convenient for people to be heard at the polls - no matter how they vote - is something we are proud to do and have done across the country, most recently this Super Tuesday.

DeBeauvoir says the big difference between political campaigns giving free rides and Lyft giving free rides is that corporate money is funding the Pro-Prop 1 side so she says Lyft will have to keep track of every time someone takes a free ride and they'll have to report it.

Of course there are many people on Facebook right now who are still not agreeing that this is above board.  DeBeauvoir says if anyone has any issues, call the Clerk's office.

 

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