‘It’s important because it is your right’: Election Protection group shares experiences at Bowling Green polls

‘It’s important because it is your right’: Election Protection group shares experiences at Bowling Green polls

Election day voting for the Kentucky governor’s race and cabinet positions began at 6 a.m. today, with polls closing at 6 p.m.

The sun beamed down on the backs of Pete and Denise Zielinski as they sat in their blue lawn chairs outside of State Street Baptist Church. The couple sported matching shirts that read “election protection.” 

“Basically, we’re just here to make sure nothing funny goes on,” Pete Zielinski, 75, said.

He smiled behind his camo bucket hat and sunglasses as his wife Denise explained their poll-watching involvement.

“A person that we know who is part of an organization and we know him from the past, he just reached out to some of us to see if we could be a part of it,” Denise Zielinski, 73, said. 

The “Election Protection” group is a national organization that “works year round to ensure that all voters have an equal opportunity to vote and have that vote count,” according to their website.

It is supported by many other organizations such as the YMCA, Louisville Urban League, Vocal Kentucky and more, according to Chasity Rodgers, a Bowling Green citizen who is also with Election Protection.

Rodgers worked as a poll-watcher in front of the Sugar Maple Square voting location, alongside her family. Signs for a variety of candidates sat in front of the group.

“You have to vote. Voting is everything,” Rodgers said. “If you go to jail, your judge is an elected official. If your children are in school, the school board makes the decisions and they are elected officials.” 

Rodgers was able to vote today, and according to her, it was a quick process.

Rodgers is cousins with Cierra Waller, a candidate for a position as a member of the Bowling Green Independent School board. This position is the only local election on the ballot in Bowling Green.

Waller works as an associate director for the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning at WKU and also has a child at Bowling Green Junior High.

Waller said she wanted to see how she could do more for her community with education, and that inspired her to run for this position.

“I have a long family lineage of education in this town,” Waller said. “I wanted to know what more I could do as a citizen to help our school system, help our teachers and help our students.”

Waller was quick to emphasize the importance of voting.

“It’s important because it is your right,” Waller said.