You’re probably tired of hearing the same end-of-the-world sentiment before elections that “the stakes have never been higher.” We’ve even joined in on the madness in the past. But after seeing the difference one or two votes could have made during last semester’s UF Student Government elections, the importance of voting is as relevant as ever.
In the Fall 2020 SG elections, voter turnout was abysmal as only 6,130 students out of 57,841 turned out to cast their vote, about 3,000 students less than the Fall 2019 SG elections. Sure, these low turnout numbers could be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic and the UF provost’s ardent stance on the unconstitutionality of online voting. However, we think what transpired last semester was also a symptom of a disease that’s been plaguing UF much longer: voter apathy.
For years, we’ve witnessed the same groups reign in SG. We see the party flags declaring allegiance outside frat houses. We know about students who are expected to return home with an “I Voted” sticker. And when these students are bribed or have their meals withheld, we hear about that, too.
But what if you’re not in an organization that incentivizes you to vote? Are you still at the polls?
The Gator Party did not win a supermajority last semester from record-high voter turnout. It won because of a minority of voters who have consistently turned out to ensure its victory.
Gator knows this, too. We’ve witnessed its indifference firsthand in years past. Often when The Alligator tried to get into contact with Gator members for various stories, requests were left unanswered or with very few details, ensuring a further breakdown of transparency.
We’re not surprised though. Why would a party that has the whole Student Government system backing them care to be transparent?
It also doesn’t help encourage students to vote when the other SG parties have their own faults. The Change Party’s campaign was centered around branding itself as an anti-Gator Party rather than promoting its own platform –– filled with some unrealistic goals. And the Keg Party is, well, the Keg Party.
However, despite all of the parties’ individual shortcomings, it is still essential that you vote and have your voice heard. SG is a fundamental part of enhancing our campus life: it handles a $22 million budget composed of your student fees to fund our libraries, our museums, our gyms, our multicultural organizations, and the Reitz Union, just to name a few.
So, if you feel Gator represents your best interests, go vote. If you feel you want to alter SG’s leadership dynamics with Change, go vote. And if you’re sick of SG drama and want to see more alcohol sold on campus with the help of Keg, go vote.
We want to see SG elections that are representative of the student population. The first step to reaching that goal is extremely simple: the mobilization of students to vote in SG elections.
So, if you don’t belong to a student organization that incentivizes you to cast your ballot, we hope The Alligator provides the push you need to go vote in SG elections. We saw the power of the youth vote during the 2020 Presidential Election. Bring that same energy to the polls on Feb. 23 and 24.
The Editorial Board is made up of the Editor-in-Chief, Digital Managing Editor, Engagement Managing Editor, and Opinions Editor.