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Thursday, May 06, 2021
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Jeremy O’Brien Murillo stood in Turlington Plaza distributing “I Voted” stickers among a frenzy of volunteers passing out flyers and party platforms on the first day of Student Government elections.

The former independent candidate said he organized to have more than 150 people give him their “I Voted” stickers two weeks ago.

“I just realized that a lot of these people aren’t even motivated to vote ... they’re just motivated to get these stickers,” the 22-year-old UF political science student said.

Voters cast 7,091 ballots Tuesday, making it the second-highest first day voter turnout in the last decade, SG supervisor of elections Stephanie Siler said. In the Fall, 6,503 students voted in Day One across 11 campus voting locations.

Some sample ballots were not loading properly in the morning, but the issue was resolved in less than 15 minutes, Siler said. There are paper sample ballots available at every voter station just in case.

This is Gator’s first executive ticket since it was created in the Fall.

Some students chose not to vote because they are too busy. Others said they don’t see a point.

“I see so much of the SG activities as frivolous and petty,” Andrew Sowinski, a 21-year-old UF computer engineering junior said.

He said he sees a lot of SG as “silly,” so he abstains from voting.

“They do some good things,” he said. “But so much of what they do is politically and socially motivated that I can’t be bothered to participate.”

Students cast their votes for constitutional revisions, candidates for Student Body president, vice president and treasurer and for senators.

The Constitution Revision Commission, a group of students, bipartisan SG representatives, faculty and staff, according to chair Danielle Grosse, meets every 10 years to update the Student Body Constitution. They proposed 24 revisions.

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The ballot grouped all of the changes under one amendment at the top of the ballot. Students had the ability to select “yes,” “no,” or “abstain” to all of them. There was not an option to vote on the amendments individually. The option to not vote was automatically selected when ballot screens opened.

Under the revisions, if more than 50 percent of students vote “yes” for an amendment, it will pass. The constitution currently requires approval from 60 percent of all people who cast their ballot, regardless of whether they voted or abstained from the amendment.

In 2016, the UF Supreme Court rolled back an amendment allowing online remote voting because of this rule. Elections revision commission member William Zelin said he suggested revising this section because he doesn’t think it represents the intention of the original writers.

“This specific section for requirement for ratification was written extremely poorly,” he said.

The number of signatures needed to put an amendment on the ballot will be cut in half, from 10 percent of the electorate to about 5 percent, if the amendment passes.

UF’s current enrollment is about 50,000 students. That drops the number of signatures needed from about 5,000 to about 2,500, Zelin said.

The commission added a 3-week deadline for the Senate to hear executive agency appointments to make them timely, Grosse said. If the deadline isn’t met, the appointments are automatically confirmed. It is unclear what happens to the timeline if the Senate rejects them.

The proposed revised constitution is available here.

“All of the changes in the amendment proposed by the Constitution Revision Commission are impactful to students,” Grosse wrote in an email.

Contact Chasity Maynard at cmaynard@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @chasitymaynard0.  

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