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Tuesday, April 13, 2021
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On Nov. 8, 2016, I watched my friends and family vote at the polls. I was stuck not doing my part as an American citizen because of my age. I was five months away from turning 18, but it would be five months too late. I vowed to vote in every election after that.

While I sat in agony watching others vote, I also noticed those who didn’t vote. It was frustrating to watch other friends and family forfeit their vote simply by not showing up to the polls. It is no longer cool to not care.

Millennials are predicted to surpass baby boomers as the nation’s largest living adult generation soon. By not voting, we are giving all the political power to older generations.

The presidential election has always been popular with voters. However, local government elections have arguably been more direct and have had a faster effect on residents. Local government is responsible for many aspects of our day-to-day lives. The Gainesville City Commission sets policies related to affordable housing, public safety, transportation, parking and much more. By participating in local elections, you are choosing the people you want to represent you in these discussions. I say that our votes really do matter in elections and even more so during local elections.

The 2019 City of Gainesville Regular Election is fast approaching. In this local election, Gainesville residents will be voting for mayor and the District 4 city commissioner.

Every candidate stands for something different, regardless of the election, so it is essential to pay close attention to where candidates stand on issues that can affect you. Educate yourself about the mayoral candidates and city commission District 4 candidates and then cast your ballot.

Our political system is more effective when all of us are engaging in the process, regardless of what your party affiliations or beliefs are.

Voting is easy. In Florida, all you have to do is register to vote and then go to your assigned polling location. There are three different ways you can vote. You can vote by mail, vote at an early voting site or vote on election day.

All requests to have a ballot mailed to you must be received by 5 p.m. Wednesday. You can request it by simply calling the Supervisor of Elections office or visiting its website (VoteAlachua.com).

Any Gainesville resident can vote at any of the city’s early voting sites. There are five early voting locations. One of them just so happens to be the Reitz Union, which is within walking distance for UF students, faculty and employees. Early voting locations for the 2019 City of Gainesville Regular Election are open now until March 16 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except Tuesday and Thursday, when hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Election Day is March 19. The polling locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. don’t forget to bring a photo and signature ID — it is required in order to vote with a regular ballot. Otherwise, you will need to vote with a provisional ballot. The list of accepted forms of ID can be found at VoteAlachua.com.

When the 2019 City of Gainesville Election rolls around, I’ll be fulfilling my civic duty by casting my ballot, and I hope you’ll be there right alongside me.

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Dalena Nguyen is an intern at the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections.

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