Student groups offer free rides to voting polls

Jamie Williams

The Student Government Association has partnered with Ride To Vote initiative to offer students who live on-campus free rides to the voting polls on Election Day.

Olive Hill junior Alexandria Knipp, Ride To Vote project leader at WKU, noted the voter turnout in 2012 for the average college student demographic was extremely low, and it had little influence on election results.

“In this election, we’re hoping to increase voter turnout by making sure that all students, no matter their access to transportation, can still vote on Election Day,” Knipp said.

On Election Day, volunteers will offer students who live on-campus and are registered to vote in Bowling Green free rides to their polling location.

The organization is nonpartisan, and volunteer drivers will not pressure students to vote for a certain party or candidate. The drivers will also refrain from telling others who they personally voted for and will not enter the polling location.

“Because the organization is nonpartisan, because we will not participate in political conversation in the car,” Knipp said. “That will hopefully encourage all students of all political ideologies and backgrounds to utilize this service.”

Vehicles will pick up students throughout the day at three locations across campus: the Hugh Poland Hall parking lot, the Kentucky Museum parking lot and the service lane of Avenue of Champions between Bates-Runner Hall and Downing Student Union. The cars will be labeled, and the service is completely free to students.

Currently, the program has 10 volunteer drivers that will shuttle students to and from polling locations from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday. If more volunteers sign up for the program, those hours may be extended.

Knipp is excited about the number of volunteers and is hopeful there will be more drivers who sign up before Election Day.

“I’ve been looking for a good way just to get involved in the election, and politics isn’t really in my zone of influence,” volunteer and Russellville junior Jason Fox said. “I just heard about Ride To Vote, and it seemed like an easy but good way for me to be involved.”

SGA Chief of Staff James Line said students who live off-campus can also get a ride to the polls by contacting Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, a nonprofit organization in Bowling Green.

Line, who has been the leader of the SGA voter empowerment initiative, feels the program has been successful since it can be difficult to get young people interested in the political process.

The first phase of the initiative involved going to classrooms, going door-to-door and tabling in order to register approximately 300 new voters. The second phase of the initiative hopes to get those new voters out to the polls.

“We felt that the more we could do to get students out to vote, the better off our community, our state and our country will be, and so we decided to do whatever we could to make WKU play a small part in that,” Line said.

Knipp said the SGA has already done a lot of work to get people interested in the election, and its partnership with the Ride To Vote program will enable students to make their vote count by providing them with transportation.

“We’re really excited,” Line said. “We hope this will make a small dent in the overall lack of participation by young people in politics.”

Reporter Jamie Williams can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].

Ed. note: A previous version of this story contained an incorrect spelling of Alexandria Knipp’s name. This error has been corrected. The Herald regrets the error.