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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Paige Fry didn’t vote in the Fall Student Government elections.

It wasn’t because she didn’t want to, but because she had no way to, the UF journalism freshman said. The 18-year-old PaCE student lives in Sanford, Florida, and would have to drive about two hours north to vote.

As a PaCE student, she’ll take her first two years of courses online.

Global Vote, a nonpartisan student organization, is trying to put an amendment on the Spring 2016 SG ballot to allow off-campus online voting, said Caroline Nickerson, the group’s media strategist. She said schools such as University of South Florida, Florida State University and University of Central Florida have online voting, which is why she and a group of friends created the organization.

“I think that online voting is the present — it’s not the future,” the 21-year-old said.

The UF East Asian Languages and Literatures and history junior said UF’s voting system is already online, but not for off-campus students. With online voting, SG could still keep on-campus locations.

To get the amendment on the ballot, the group is hoping to collect 2,500 signatures, said Austin Young, a co-founder of Global Vote. The petition got 350 signatures on Monday, the first day collecting them.

Off-campus online voting will allow PaCE, Innovation Academy, online students and students studying abroad the opportunity to vote, Young, 19, said. He thought students would be more receptive to a non-SG-affiliated group.

“We believe it should really be a nonpartisan issue,” the UF political science sophomore said.

Oliver Telusma, an IA political science sophomore, wrote in an email that IA students have to be enrolled in a minimum of six credits and be in Gainesville to vote. He said while the need to be on campus is an issue, the credit requirement is also a barrier.

“I was able to vote not only because I lived in Gainesville during this past election cycle but was enrolled in a minimum of six credit hours,” the 19-year-old said.

PaCE students’ inability to vote online is a lack of representation for them, Fry said.

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“There’s a bias in the system,” she said. “We shouldn’t have to live in Gainesville to have a vote.”

PaCE students should also be made aware of SG elections and party platforms, she said. Living in Sanford, she received little information about elections.

The amendment would make availability of online voting up to the Student Body, Nickerson said.

“I think students should make the choice,” she said.

She said UF needs to catch up to other universities that have off-campus online voting.

“FSU has it and we don’t, which I think is depressing,” she said. “Our biggest rival has online voting. We need to catch up.”

Contact Caitlin Ostroff at costroff@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter @ceostroff

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