Court reinstates state ban on ride-sharing to the polls

    Susan J. Demas

    A federal appeals court ruled Thursday to reinstate Michigan’s 125-year-old voter-transportation law, which prohibits advocacy groups from paying for transportation so voters can go to the polls.

    The law has long prohibited not only voter advocacy organizations from paying for voters’ transportation, but also ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft from offering discounted rides to Michigan voters on election day.

    Democratic super PAC Priorities USA and two voter advocacy groups first filed the lawsuit, Priorities USA et al v. Nessel, against the state in January. The complaint requested that the court issue an injunction against the state’s ban unless a voter is physically unable to walk. That motion was granted by a U.S. District Court judge in September.

    But the GOP-led state Legislature, Michigan Republican Party and Republican National Committee filed an emergency motion shortly after the ruling in an effort to suspend the injunction. That motion was denied by the state court, but then granted by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eastern District of Michigan Thursday in a 2-1 vote.

    That means that Michigan’s voter-transportation law likely will remain in effect for the 2020 election. The statute had been enacted in 1895 to prevent voters from being bribed with transportation to the polls.

    Laina G. Stebbins
    Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, Native issues and criminal justice for the Advance. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or spending time with her cats, she loves art and design, listening to music, playing piano, enjoying good food and being out in nature (especially Up North).