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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

UF student voter guide to the SG Spring election

Students can choose from six sites to vote in person for the SG Spring election Feb. 23 and 24. No early voting option was provided

Spring 2021 Student Government Polling Locations
Spring 2021 Student Government Polling Locations

The UF Student Government Spring election will take place in-person on Feb. 23- 24 from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. at six campus voting sites listed on the SG website.

Students can vote at the Reitz Union Computer Lab, the Social Lounge at Southwest Recreation Center, the Broward Hall Recreation Room, the Murphree Area Office Conference Room, the Springs Office Conference Room or the Cypress Meeting Room.

Students can also return their absentee ballots to the SG Office by the 8:30 p.m. on the last day of elections.

To vote, students must present their Gator 1 Card, their driver’s license or any other government issued identification matching the name on the university registrar’s list, Supervisor of Elections Hayley Price wrote in an email.

“To stay safe while voting, I encourage students to follow event guidelines provided by the university, use social distancing practices, use the hand sanitizer provided, and properly wear a face mask at all times,” Price wrote.

Price did not answer specific questions about measures being taken to ensure the safety of students while voting, including disinfection of polling machines and regulations to limit student capacity in voting sites.

Students have five fewer options of voting sites to choose from compared to last Spring. Chair of Elections Ryan Wiele, who is responsible for determining polling locations, said the decrease of sites was because some locations were unavailable due to COVID-19 procedures. 

“We appreciate the support and flexibility of the locations we were able to secure and believe that they will provide students with enough locations to participate in the election safely,” Wiele wrote in an email.

An early voting option was not included in the Spring election special rules this year.

General election procedures are determined by election codes Senate establishes. An additional set of rules, the special election rules, is determined by the SG Election Commission to adapt voting procedures to the needs of each individual election.

Fall 2020 special rules included early voting, allowing students to submit their ballot two weeks prior to election day to avoid crowded polling sites over the two election days. 

Senator Zachery Utt (Murphree Area, Inspire) submitted an authorization, a piece of legislation ordering an officer to fulfill a prescribed duty, Feb. 7 to the SG Judiciary Committee, a group of senators who hear all non-budget related legislation, asking for early voting in the Spring 2021 election. 

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Senator Noah Fineberg (District A, Gator), a voting member of the Judiciary Committee, said he felt uncomfortable passing the resolution because he believed it may be unconstitutional. Article III, Section 7 of the Student Body Constitution says no changes can be made to the election laws over the five weeks preceding the election. 

Utt said this resolution would not break that law because it would simply be an addition of a rule and not a change of code or law.

The Judiciary Committee unanimously failed the authorization of early voting this semester.

Along with four other senators, Utt further filed a resolution to impeach Wiele following a claim that he failed to maintain a “fair and efficient election” as mandated by the election codes and used his power to disenfranchise students. 

Utt criticized Wiele for his unresponsiveness regarding early voting questions, as well as his decisions to reduce the number of voting sites and stop early voting while there are still COVID-19 cases on campus.

In Fall 2020, Senate passed special rules allowing early voting. However, its constitutionality was questioned, as the UF Student Body Constitution states SG elections must take place on Tuesday and Wednesday of the sixth week from Fall term.

Mark Merwitzer, a 21-year-old UF political science junior, submitted a case to the SG Supreme Court in Fall asking for an interpretation of whether the addition of early voting to the special rules was constitutional.

The court determined the case could not be heard because it required a signature of 20 members of the Student Body to interpret any provision of the constitution, leaving the early voting question up in the air.

Contact Carolina Ilvento at cilvento@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @CarolinaIlvento.

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Carolina Ilvento

Carolina is a second-year journalism major with a minor in sustainability. In the past, she covered stories and events for WUFT, and she is now reporting on Student Government for The Alligator. Carolina loves to do yoga and go to the beach whenever she isn't writing.


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