Girls Inc. of Owensboro will once again be offering voters within the city limits complimentary rides to the polls on Election Day. The tradition began in 2016 when the organization got their new, red vans — Bill, Marilyn, Martha and Marianne.
Girls Inc. is a national youth nonprofit whose mission is to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. Quality educational opportunities for girls are offered under the national Girls Incorporated curricula, but the program is supplemented by locally developed initiatives.
Offering rides to the polls is one of the educational opportunities that affords the girls a chance to learn about the voting process. Since school is out on Election Day, Girls Inc. girls will accompany voters who utilize the complimentary service and hopefully, those in the vans will have an open discussion about their voting experience.
“Last year, both parties were thrilled that we were offering a nonpartisan ride to the polls,” Whitney Galloway, executive operations assistant at Girls Inc. of Owensboro said.
Galloway said she has anxiety when she goes to the polls and that even as an adult, the polls aren’t always a welcoming place.
“And when it’s a new experience for you, it can be even more stressful,” Galloway said. “Showing these girls the process and allowing them to walk through it with other people in the community, who are excited to be voting, will be a learning experience that will help them when they are actually able to participate in elections in the future. So many young girls struggle to find their voice. By showing them how voting works and how their vote matters, will help them realize that they do have a voice and that their voice can be powerful.”
Eight-year-old Kennedy, participated last year and said that she learned how the whole voting process worked.
“It’s very important to choose the right people to lead you,” Kennedy said.
Election Day morning, the girls will be participating in a National Girls Inc. program called She Votes. She Votes is a nonpartisan initiative that focuses on involving girls in the political process.
Last year, the girls used the initiative to vote on a staff of the day. The girls had to register to vote then sign in with poll workers, vote at a private booth and then return their ballot to be processed and tallied in a secure environment. The results were given later that day, Galloway said. They plan to do the same this year.
“Voting lets us have the opportunity to decide who is a good leader,” said Teriana, age 13.
Dulce, age 9, said being involved in the election process is important because you want to know who is leading your country or community.
“It is so important for these girls to see the voting process in action at such a young age,” Galloway said. “Who knows, maybe we will inspire a few future candidates for office.”
Presleigh, who participated last year, said that one day she could be president.
“People could be voting for me,” she said.
Girls Inc. hopes for a great turnout this year.
Those who would like a free ride with the girls to the polls can call 270-684-7833. You will provide your name, pick-up location, preferred time and polling place.
Polling locations must be within city limits and vans are not handicap accessible.
This will be a wonderful learning experience for the girls who go as well.
Marlys Mason, Owensboro Times