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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
<p>Ryan Wilder, Change Party founder and UF alum, celebrates the party winning 12 seats in the Student Government Senate election on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021 at the Reitz Union. Wilder previously served as a District C senator.</p>

Ryan Wilder, Change Party founder and UF alum, celebrates the party winning 12 seats in the Student Government Senate election on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021 at the Reitz Union. Wilder previously served as a District C senator.

Members of Change and Gator Party huddled on the third floor of the Reitz Wednesday night, waiting for election results to begin rolling out. At the end of the night, Gator Party solidified its majority in Senate for the third semester in a row. 

Gator won 37 seats and Change won 12. The Family Housing seat was uncontested but students voted for "Gator Party" as a write-in. The seat, however, will remain vacant as there were no contestants for the position or notice of a write-in campaign, which according to SG codes must be submitted prior to the close of polls on the second day of elections, Supervisor of Elections Alexandra Stedman wrote. Senate will vote on who will fill it through the Replacement and Agenda Committee, though it is unclear if a Gator senator will fill the position, and who that will be. 

Gator Party maintained its supermajority in Senate, currently holding more than 60 seats.

Gator Party campaigned for adding Gator 1 cards to mobile wallets, re-establishing parking ticket forgiveness and adding links on ONE.UF for mental health resources. But the party lost a portion of its supermajority as Change won 12 seats — eight more than it held previous to this election.

Change more than tripled its wins from the Spring semester, winning 12 seats total out of the 36 candidates that ran. In the previous Spring semester, Change won three seats.

A total of 8,299 votes were cast, an increase of 35% from last Fall’s 6,130 ballots. Results were announced in person for the first time since COVID-19 hit in Fall 2019.

Gator Party members celebrate 38 seats won in the Student Government Senate on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021 in the Reitz Union.

Noah Fineberg, Gator Party co-campaign manager, won his race in District A for the second year in a row. 

“I’m extremely ecstatic about Gator Party’s landslide victory tonight,” Fineberg said. “We’re the party students have trusted, do trust and will continue to trust to lead this campus.”

Newly elected senators will be sworn in next Tuesday, Oct. 5

“I’m thrilled,” Zoe Terner, Change Party President said. “This is the first time we'll ever really have a caucus of Change senators, and we can get to work doing the things that we talk about all the time and care about so much.”

Change campaigned on a platform of renaming buildings whose names currently honor bigots, allocating needed funds to the Counseling and Wellness Center and extending the statute of limitations in the Student Handbook on sexual assault from one year to four.

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SG operates on a budget of $22 million, funded by student fees, for agencies, organizations and various events throughout the year. Elected officers will serve one-year terms representing their residential areas. 

While Communist Party won none of the 11 seats it campaigned for, about 800 students voted for it. They also did not attend the watch party at the Reitz. Alfredo Ortiz, president of Communist Party, counts tonight as a win anyway.

“The results represent that there is a pretty significant portion of the student body that is comfortable identifying for communism and going out there and actually voting for it,” Ortiz said. “Which I think is pretty incredible.”

Less than 10% of voters cast ballots for Communist Party.

The first and second day of voting saw 4,697 and 3,602 students vote respectively. A total of 208 students requested an absentee ballot. Voter turnout increased compared to Fall 2020, when 6,130 total ballots were cast. 

Gator Party
Annabelle Groux (left) leans on Lauren Lemasters (right) while waiting to hear Student Government Senate election results at the Reitz Union on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021. Groux was elected as a senator for District A.

This semester’s turnout approached pre-COVID turnout with 16% fewer voters than Fall 2019, when 9,900 students voted.

Students cleared to vote were enrolled in classes, did not previously view or submit a ballot and had the correct address information on ONE.UF, wrote Stedman. 

Students cast ballots at seven polling locations. Krystin Anderson cast her ballot in the Reitz Computer Lab.

Anderson, a 21-year-old UF anthropology and digital arts and sciences double major senior, said she saw Gator Party candidate John Hazzard campaigning outside Beaty Towers for multiple days. His commitment earned her vote.

“It’s really hard, the whole day to just be standing out there,” she said.

As a resident of Beaty Towers, Anderson feels as though a lot of the construction projects happening on Museum Road were out of her control. She wants a candidate that will pay attention, and she didn’t see the Change candidate campaigning at all. 

“It’ll just be helpful to have someone else to speak up for us on these things that it felt like we had no say in,” she said. “I’ve seen his face, and I can walk up to him and be like, ‘hey I know you’re our senator can you help us make them stop starting new construction in front of our building?’”

Another student, Xavi Fuentes, voted for Change Party solely because they weren’t Gator Party. 

“I’m tired of corruption,” the 20-year-old sociology junior stated. “ [Change is] just the other guy.”

Fuentes had his voting process delayed because of the incorrect address on his ONE.UF. Students with an incorrect address had to fill out an affidavit before having access to the correct ballot. Others received an “Access Denied” screen when attempting to cast their ballots.

Alfredo Ortiz, the Communist Party president, sent an email to the Supervisor of Elections stating he heard of some students that were prevented from voting. Ortiz reported that these students were unable to get past the Gator 1 authentication process. 

“We investigated every person that came to us with questions about their eligibility to vote,” Stedman wrote.

“Access Denied” screens can appear if a student is not currently enrolled in classes or has viewed or submitted a ballot already, Stedman said. Problems also came up if a student requested an absentee ballot, but showed up to vote in-person. 

Emily Canamella, 20-year-old UF history and political science junior, voted for Change but hopes the winner has students’ best interest in mind either way.

“I hope they do things that benefit the student body and that the student body would like for them to do,” she said. 

Contact Allessandra at Follow her on Twitter @ainzinna.

Contact Max at Follow her on Twitter @MTaylor_Journ.

Contact Elena at Follow her on Twitter @elenabarreraaa.

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Allessandra Inzinna

Allessandra is a third-year journalism major with a minor in English. In the past, she has covered local musicians and the cannabis industry. She is now the Student Government reporter for The Alligator. Allessandra paints and plays guitar in her free time. 

Max Taylor

Max is a first year journalism major. In the past, she worked as the Editor-in-Chief of her high school's yearbook, and she is now a News Desk Assistant for The Alligator. When she isn't reporting, Max enjoys reading and rock music.

Elena Barrera

Elena is a second-year journalism major with a minor in health sciences. She is currently the University Administration reporter for The Alligator. When she is not writing, Elena loves to work out, go to the beach and spend time with her friends and family.

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