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Sunday, December 03, 2023

Campaigners sporting Student Government party T-shirts are not the only people telling students to vote on election days.

Every semester about 50 poll workers help hand students their ballots and reward them with a sticker after they cast their votes.

On the morning of elections, the poll workers meet in the Reitz Union drop-off area near the parking garage. They can either drive themselves to the polling locations or get rides with election officials. Then, with their packed lunches and boxes of ballots in hand, they trek out to their various posts around campus.

Nita Watkins has been manning the polls at Matherly Hall for three election cycles.

“It’s fun being around the college students,” Watkins said. “Most of them have a good sense of humor.”

Watkins, who is retired, said she moved to the Gainesville area not too long ago and thought working as a county poll worker and UF elections would be something fun to do.

She said her job keeps her busy.

“I’m not too interested in sitting around the house all day,” Watkins said.

Watkins said most of the students know how the elections work and happily stop to chat with her and the other workers.

Flossie Pressley, who collected the ballots from students at Matherly Hall during this election, has run UF polls for three years.

She worked at Santa Fe Community College for 27 years, and she said working at the polls is a great way to help students.

“The reception’s there, and you are still serving them,” Pressley said.

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Supervisor of Elections Ariana Alfonso said the workers are always excited to help out.

They check ID cards, cross students off the voter list and help count the number of students who voted at the end of the day.

“I think they’re just the sweetest,” she said.

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