The number of ballots cast on the first day of voting for the UF Student Government Spring Election increased by about 4.75 times since last Spring’s election.
Students cast 5448 ballots on the first day of SG elections, voting in eight polling locations across campus from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. Last Spring, 1146 ballots were cast on the first day. During the Fall, 4697 students voted on the first day. Ballot counts do not include absentee ballots.
Internet connection issues prevented voting at Springs Library and Recreation Room at about 2 p.m., but the issue was corrected within 15 minutes, according to a text message from Supervisor of Elections Alexandra Stedman.
In residential areas like the Springs Complex and Broward Hall, polling locations excluded students who didn’t have residential access after 5 p.m., when doors to the area desks automatically lock.
Broward Hall’s doors were unlocked soon after 5 p.m., but Springs Complex’s were not. Instead an assistant supervisor of elections stood by the door to let students in until polls closed.
“We make sure to reach out to that area ahead of time,” Stedman said, “Sometimes things just kind of get lost in the craziness.”
Voters drifted in and out of polls in the morning, but by mid-day lines extended down hallways and wrapped around columns in some of the busiest locations, including the Reitz Union and Norman Hall. Lines were shorter in locations like Southwest Recreation Center and the Levin College of Law.
During peak wait times, students waited between 15 and 20 minutes to move through the line and vote.
Some students wore sweaters that read “Live Laugh Lauren” for Gator Party presidential candidate Lauren Lemasters. Others opted for Change Party T-shirts featuring Century Tower, and some students represented their sororities and fraternities with Greek letters.
Norman Hall is the polling location closest to Sorority Row, and Springs Complex is closest to Fraternity Row.
Voting took place at the J. Wayne Reitz Union Computer Printing Lab, Health Science Center Library, Norman Hall Educational Library, Southwest Recreation Center, Springs Library and Recreation Room, Broward Recreation Room, Levin College of Law and Heavener Room 202.
In order to vote, students were instructed to bring their Gator One ID but could vote without it by showing their ONE.UF account on their cell phone. Voters logged on to a computer, cast their vote and received an ‘I voted’ sticker.
Jordyn Salmon, a chemical engineering freshman and member of the Alpha Phi sorority, voted for Gator Party because of its 17-point platform, which she said can appeal to everyone. She relates to other students who could benefit from Gator Party initiatives such as ice machines in dorms.
Salmon was encouraged by her sorority to participate in the election, she said.
“I wish more people voted,” Salmon said, “Being in Greek life, I’m kind of ignorant to the fact that not everybody is forced to vote. I don’t even think most people would vote.”
Cole Erickson, a 19-year-old international studies freshman, echoed Salmon’s wishes. The voting process was easy, he said, but there should be more widespread and non-partisan information about elections.
“I can’t see why there can’t be a mass email, for example, from the deans of the colleges, informing us, saying ‘Hey, here’s an opportunity to practice democracy and vote,’” he said.
Erickson was in and out of polling in less than ten minutes; it was a more fluid experience than in the Fall semester, when he was erroneously registered for an absentee ballot and had to wait a day to vote while the issue was resolved.
Outside of the Reitz, Dayanna Peek, the Change Party’s vice presidential candidate, was dressed in an inflatable Pikachu suit and held a sign that read “‘PEEK’-ACHU for CHANGE.”
Both the Change and the Gator parties’ ambassadors and candidates walked through Turlington and Reitz Union areas encouraging students to vote.
“We got at least 100 people that wanted to take pictures with us,” Change Party President Cassidy Campbell said, “A lot of people who didn't even know what student government was, getting them out to vote. They were really excited.”
Jacob Van De Car, the Gator Party’s Campaign Manager, was also pleased with voter turnout.
“A lot of people have voted In the morning, which I was really surprised about,” he said, “People were either on their way or had already done it.”
Stedman feels satisfied with the voter turnout, which typically hovers between 5000 and 6000 on the first day of elections, she said.
Stedman will announce elections on or after 9:30 p.m. Wednesday in the center of the Reitz Union.
Alligator staff writers Lucille Lannigan and Elena Barrera contributed to this report.
Maia Botek is a third-year journalism major and Spanish minor covering student government this semester. Maia is from South Florida and enjoys the beach, spending time with her friends and learning about the environment in her free time.