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Thursday, May 23, 2024

With SG elections in full swing, voting is more important than ever

t is universally agreed that democracy is a cornerstone of American values. By most accounts, it is the raison d’être for our country’s existence. The concepts which fall under democratic ideals, such as the freedom of choice and freedom of speech, have fundamentally shaped this nation’s political culture and social mores.

Despite the fact that democracy is often used to justify an individual’s choice to consume much-too-large portions of food and sugary beverages — not to mention the most hateful speech one will ever hear — it seems as though it is rarely invoked to encourage the activity it was ostensibly conceived for: voting for one’s leaders.

As many of you know, Student Government elections are being held today and Wednesday. Around campus, men and women will be taking part in the great democratic process that is waiting their turn, all ready to decide who will represent their interests for the remainder of the semester.

Although it sounds trite, this election is a particularly important one. The race between the Access and Impact Parties has been more heated than usual, likely because this election will determine SG’s agenda for the foreseeable future.

Access’ victory in securing executive positions last Spring represented the strongest show of power by an opposition party in at least a decade — this election, whether Access had run against the Swamp Party or Impact, was always going to be particularly contentious.

We don’t need to tell you this country suffers from a political apathy problem, particularly among young people. Hell, The Huffington Post has a whole section dedicated to think pieces on political apathy.

But, at the risk of writing the tritest editorial ever, it is essential we as students mobilize to vote today and Wednesday, regardless of party preference or affiliation. As we noted last year, Access, bolstered by the highest voter turnout ever, won by 124 votes. In case your knowledge of statistics needs a little work, 124 votes is an incredibly small margin of victory.

Like national politics, the student apathy behind SG elections generally stems from the belief that the policies enacted by SG will have little to no effect on one’s day-to-day experience at UF. Au contraire, cynical Student Body: The happenings of SG directly impact you (seriously, no pun intended) from the moment you pay your first tuition fee, with nearly $18.19 per credit hour of it directed toward building SG’s yearly budget through the Activities and Service Fee.

The budget, which is in the millions, essentially means we as a Student Body have paid for the right to dictate who is in charge of where our money is spent.

From a perspective of pure practicality, it would be a profound waste of money NOT to participate in the democratic process. Although it is ultimately an individual choice, we encourage each and every student to use his or her own dollars wisely and make it a point to have his or her voice heard from the moment the polls open today to when they close Wednesday.

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