Student Government elections will have early voting for the first time in modern history, but the details of the process remain unclear.
Early voting will be in September with students physically dropping paper ballots in secure boxes, said Supervisor of Elections Hayley Price during the Sunday Election Commission meeting. The location and time of early voting are still to be determined.
“Regarding safety measures, I will be using suggested practices and guidelines from the University to make final plans,” she wrote in an email to The Alligator.
The Election Commission, a non-partisan division of SG that oversees elections, unanimously approved special rules proposed by Price. The rules passed without questions or comments from the six commission members.
The regular election is scheduled for Oct. 6 and 7.
Instead of casting their vote at a physical polling station during regular voting, students can request an absentee ballot two weeks prior to the election and cast it through the mail, according to the Student Body 700 Codes.
Price’s special rules were proposed to align UF’s voting with local and federal COVID-19 safety guidelines, according to the rules. She wrote she also made the early voting rule to match UF with local, state and federal voting practices.
“Those elections offer an early voting period, so I believe it will be a successful option for students to vote during unprecedented times,” she wrote.
These special rules also made the drawing, tabulation and election results’ announcement virtually accessible and allowed candidates to electronically submit eligibility papers and sign their statements.
Online voting is still up in the air as a potential option.
Mark Merwitzer, a 20-year-old UF political science junior and former Progressive Party treasurer, said during public comment that he supports early voting, but is concerned Price’s early voting rule is too vague.
The SG constitution outlines that elections must occur on Tuesday and Wednesday of the sixth week of the term, according to Article VI, Section 2. But Merwitzer said he is also concerned that the early voting schedule may make the election unconstitutional.
Merwitzer submitted a case to the UF Supreme Court Sunday asking them to review the early voting rule and determine if it was constitutional.
“If a lot of people decide to vote early because of COVID I don’t want everyone’s ballot to be thrown away,” he said.
Correction: This story was updated to reflect that the regular election is Oct. 6 and 7. The original version of the story had two incorrect days.
Lianna Hubbard is a reporter for The Alligator’s Investigative Team. The UF women’s study major began as a freelance reporter three years ago. She founded her community college’s award-winning newspaper before beginning at The Independent Florida Alligator. See an issue in your community or a story at UF? Send tips to her Twitter.