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Get-Out-The-Vote Efforts Partner with Uber for Election Day Transportation

The on-demand economy is teaming up with voter-outreach programs to bring people to the polls Nov. 8.

(TNS) — Political consultants in suburban Philadelphia and Washington have joined forces to turn Uber's "first ride free" program into a platform to help candidates' campaigns, issue groups, and other get-out-the-vote efforts target likely supporters and bring them to the polls Nov. 8, through a site they're calling

Uber offers up to $10 off your first ride. The company has, in previous elections, expanded the break on election days in the United States and in cities in Canada, India, South Africa and other countries as a way of attracting new users and appearing public-spirited.

The new Web address was built into an Uber app extension by Fort Washington-based Audience Partners, whose affiliates, including CampaignGrid, help Republicans and some Democrats match voter-registration data to voters' political preferences and ad-watching habits, as tracked through their social-media and web visits.

"We developed the idea. We built it," Jeff Dittus, who cofounded Audience Partners and CampaignGrid with partner Rich Masterson, told me. Masterson serves as CEO of VoterDrive.US.

"We are combining the on-demand economy with our voter-outreach program to find the people who need rides and work with Uber to give them free rides to the polls," Dittus said.

"It is always exciting to see organizations utilize Uber's platform and products to help move people to the places they need to be," Uber spokesman Matthew Wing told me.

The app is being marketed to get-out-the-vote campaigns by Apco Worldwide, the Washington "public affairs and strategic communications" consultant that counts Ikea, Microsoft, Novartis, the United Nations, United Airlines, and UPS as clients.

"This fits Uber's ethos, to 'democratize technology,'" Evan Kraus, president of Apco, told me.

The politicos are customizing Uber's offering: "Instead of forcing consumers to sort all of this out and find a coupon to redeem to get to the polls, VoterDrive is an end-to-end solution: We connect the voters to their own polling station" through Audience Partners' software applications and political and voter databases, Kraus said.

That makes it easier for campaign, party and issue groups to work Uber into their get-out-the-vote efforts. Kraus is encouraging them to pay return trips and any fee beyond Uber's $10 discount — and also to pay for repeat Uber users who wouldn't otherwise qualify for a free trip.

"A lot of nongovernmental organizations and campaigns are trying to boost turnout. We understand how those groups intersect. We hope we can serve as the connective tissue, taking advantage of the technology and the need," Kraus said.

©2016 The Philadelphia Inquirer Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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