You have made it through the months leading up to the midterm elections. You have researched your candidates and you have voted. Before you sit back and watch the infamous Election Day needle swing to and fro, you’re entitled to a treat.
Some companies are offering free food, free car rides and discounts, among other deals, for people who plan on voting, say they voted or prominently wear their “I Voted” sticker.
However, providing voters with incentives before or after voting in a federal election is technically illegal.
“Most of the time when businesses offer these incentives, they are just trying to increase voter participation, but it is illegal,” said Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, a political scientist and an assistant professor of public affairs at Columbia University. “Under federal election law and in any case where there is a federal candidate on the ballot, it is illegal.”
[Read more about how, when and where to vote here.]
Still, there isn’t a case he can think of that has been brought against such businesses.
“Federal law enforcement has bigger fish to fry,” Mr. Hertel-Fernandez said.
Some businesses have also teamed up with nonprofit organizations to facilitate voting for some who may live far from the polls.
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Here are some of the businesses that plan on making it easier for people to vote or giving rewards for voting this year:
• Uber is offering users a free ride to a polling place.
• Lyft is providing free and discounted rides to the polls. The free rides are being distributed through Lyft’s nonprofit and nonpartisan partners, including Voto Latino, local affiliates of the National Urban League, the National Federation of the Blind, Faith in Action, League of Women Voters and the Student Veterans of America. Lyft’s partners are determining how to distribute the rides to the users they deem most in need of transportation to the polls.
• Lime is offering a free ride to the polls, up to 30 minutes long, by providing access to their fleet of shared bikes, e-bikes and e-scooters.
• In New York and New Jersey, Citi Bike rides are free on Election Day. Citi Bike announced on Twitter that by entering the code “BIKETOVOTE” in the Citi Bike app, riders can claim a free day pass on the bikes.
• Several Y.M.C.A.s will offer free or reduced child care services for people who are voting. Contact your local Y.M.C.A. to see what is available.
• As part of Zipcar’s #DRIVEtheVOTE initiative, any member who reserves a car in the United States from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on election night will receive $20 in driving credit toward a future reservation.
• After the Illinois State Board of Elections caught wind of its free admission offer for voters, the Field Museum in Chicago opened its gates to everyone. The museum is offering free admission for all Illinois residents on Tuesday.
• The dermatologist Dr. Pimple Popper is offering a free daily moisturizer to all voters who post a selfie — while they are in line at the polls or with their “I Voted” sticker — that tags her skin care line.
• Potbelly Sandwich Shop will be giving out free cookies on Election Day and on Wednesday (no “I Voted” sticker required).
• Shake Shack is offering a free order of crinkle-cut French fries with any purchase on Election Day. Voters can walk in and flaunt their “I Voted” sticker or use the Shake Shack app to redeem the offer.
• Via Metropolitan Transit, the transit agency in San Antonio, is running fare-free bus rides to encourage San Antonians to make it to the polls.
• The first 200 people that can show their voting-related social media post with the hashtag “I Voted” at Brooklyn Bowl in New York can catch a free show. “I Voted” stickers will not work for entry.
• The Creativity Museum in San Francisco is offering free admission to voters through Friday.
• Stumptown Coffee Roasters is offering a free coffee for canvassers, registered voters and volunteers at the polls on Election Day.
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