Paducah pastor and city commission candidate Raynarldo Henderson remembers voting for the first time as a young adult in Chicago, and describes the civic act as a way to help enact change in communities.
“You bring about change by getting in the trenches and making something happen,” Henderson said. “And so, when we talk about voting, we often kind of blow off these little local elections, but this is where the change begins.
“It begins in smaller places, smaller groups of people on the local elections and you get good people in these elections and they begin to, if you will, infiltrate other places and it brings about the change.”
Henderson was one of many at the Rock the Vote drive-by block party Saturday outside of Big Ed’s restaurant, where an enthusiastic group helped distribute free hotdogs to motorists, including Paducah Mayor Brandi Harless. They gathered to encourage residents to vote in the November election, as early in-person and absentee ballot voting is underway.
Andiamo White, of Paducah, has participated in several local efforts to get people registered to vote and helped share voter commitment cards Saturday, which state “I, (name) will vote in the 2020 Kentucky General Election,” and help them make a plan to vote.
“We’ve had the Divine Nine — Black Greek fraternities and sororities — that have been putting on voter registrations,” White said.
“This event right here was spearheaded by Mayor Harless and she got in touch with several of us about helping out on it, so we appreciate her for spearheading it. Just had a lot of events. Plenty of times, (my brother) Big Ed has allowed us to use his property. Putting it together has been a great thing and getting people registered. Now is the time to make sure they vote.”
White explained he got involved because he wants people to exercise their voting right and it’s also a platform of his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, that “a voteless people is a hopeless people.”
“What I want people to know about ‘Rock the Vote’ is just get out there,” he said. “If you registered, you took the time to register. Take the time to vote.”
The block party featured a handful of local youth, including White’s 14-year-old daughter, Alexa White, and 13-year-old Ryan Bidwell. They both stressed that voting makes a difference.
“It’s important and just do what you believe,”she said.
Meanwhile, Bidwell thinks it’s definitely worth it to vote and encouraged people to make a plan and not to put it off, as their votes matter.
The next Rock the Vote drive-by block party is set for 1-3 p.m. Oct. 24 at the W.C. Young Community Center in Paducah.
“Honestly, if you think about it, this is the one way that our democracy thrives and survives,” said Harless, who was inspired by White and others’ efforts on voter registration and wanted to play a part in helping get out the vote.
“This is the people’s voice. This is allowing each individual to have a say in what happens in their communities, in their country and so, we have to recognize that as citizens of our community, we need to exercise our rights and this is the one way we can make a big impact.”
Residents can do early in-person voting at the McCracken County Clerk’s Office from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and then 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturdays through Nov. 2. Election Day is Nov. 3.