Hello Gators! My name is Erica Baker, and I am the supervisor of elections for Student Government. I am writing to you to discuss the importance of SG Elections. SG impacts the campus in a number of ways, through their ability to advocate on behalf of the Student Body at UF and in the state and federal government.

There are multiple ways to get involved with SG. You can run for a Student Senate position, campaign or, most importantly, you can vote. While the majority of students do not run for Senate, I do not want to diminish the importance of running for a position. That being said, I would encourage anyone who is considering it to attend the elections informational meeting today in the Senate Chamber to learn more about running for a Senate position. At this time, however, I would like to focus on the importance of being an educated voter.

Elections will be held Feb. 20 and 21 from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. The Spring election is different from the Fall election in that it is based on your credits instead of where you live. You will be considered a freshman, sophomore or you will be categorized based on your college. This means the 50 senators elected this semester will represent freshmen, sophomores and each of the colleges on campus. This election is also different because students will be voting for the next Student Body president, vice president and treasurer.

Much like city, state and national elections, it is important for people to take advantage of their right to vote in order to have their voices heard on important issues. And, like the aforementioned elections, we, as students at UF, have more than one way to vote. You can either vote at a designated polling location or you can vote by absentee ballot. If you wish to vote by absentee ballot, you can find the sign up form on the SG elections page. The sign up form will be open until Feb. 7 at 5 p.m.

Beyond asserting your right to vote, it is also crucial to be an educated voter. By being an educated voter, you are ensuring that your voice is heard and properly represented. Parties and candidates may have similar stances on certain topics, but they differ on others, and I would encourage every student to ask questions and figure out who they want to represent them and their beliefs.

How can you become an educated voter? An easy way to start is to do research on the internet. With the election cycle beginning today, each party will likely have their own social media accounts where you can find more information on them. Later, once the platforms are released by the parties, you will also be able to find a PDF with all of the parties and their platforms listed on the SG elections website.

You can also talk to them in person. After the elections cycle has begun, the parties and candidates will campaign around campus. You can approach them in person and learn more about them. I would encourage students to take the time to talk to the candidates in person. Some candidates will run independent of a party, and, to truly be an educated voter, you should talk to everyone who is running to represent you.

Third, you can attend the SG debate Feb. 13 at the Reitz Union Grand Ballroom. At the SG debate, the presidential tickets will answer various questions about their platforms and goals for the campus.

Lastly, I would encourage everyone to check out the SG elections website. You will be able to find the codes governing elections, a list of important dates and other important documents pertaining to the elections. After Feb. 12, you will also be able to find the official list of candidates who are running. One can never be overeducated when it comes to elections. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at [email protected]. Thank you for taking the time to read this and being an educated voter, and, as always, go Gators!