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Monday, October 02, 2023

Gators beat Tennessee in student voter registration contest

UF’s Bob Graham Center for Public Service led the initiative

While UF may have lost to Tennessee on the field Saturday, it won by the ballot.

UF’s Bob Graham Center for Public Service hosted the Beat Tennessee Voter Challenge, which is a competition dedicated to comparing student voter registration between the two universities, Sept. 23. The schools determined the winner by tallying the highest number of people registered to receive reminders to vote.

The last updated results of the Voter Challenge came in at 2,028 enrollments for UF and 900 for UT Saturday night, Bob Graham Center student assistant Francesca Tomasino said.

The competition counted the number of people who registered for TurboVote, a free election reminder service used by UF. The service keeps track of upcoming elections, checks registrations and helps people register to vote.

The Voter Challenge originated from UT’s Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy. The competition overlapped with the Sept. 24 Tennessee football game and National Voter Registration Day, which was Sept. 20.

For the students and staff of the Graham Center, promoting civic engagement is their own sport. 

Teresa Cornacchione, civic engagement coordinator, said she has a passion for getting students to vote. Her job requires her to promote voting within the study body. 

“One of the missions of the Graham Center is to give students and people in the community the tools of citizenship,” she said. 

Cornacchione believes the center can help students become more informed about politics and ways to help their community, she said. 

“You’re not a voter ‘til you vote,” Cornacchione said. “With TurboVote and the engagement, you’re more likely to actually exercise that right you signed up for if you’re being reminded.”

The service notifies people in their own voting district, she said, allowing Gators across the nation to use TurboVote. Students, faculty, alumni and fans can all participate in the competition, she said. 

One goal of the Voter Challenge, Cornacchione said, is to keep enthusiasm for voting ongoing after the competition.

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She would like voters to ask what else they can seek out after elections, Cornacchione said.

Matthew Jacobs, UF history professor and Graham Center director, said the competition is about voter engagement. He  hopes the competition will help students think more broadly about their civic engagement, he said.

“Voting is the floor, not the ceiling of your civic engagement,” he said.

Francesca Tomasino, a political science junior, works as a student assistant for the Graham Center. She’s responsible for the center’s push to get students to utilize TurboVote. 

“If that just means a few people are going to be reminded to vote in the election, that’s a great thing,” she said.

Even if you know the election is happening, she said, it doesn’t hurt to get a reminder. The Graham Center wants to help provide voter education through the challenge.

“Everyone should have their voice heard,” Tomasino said.

Participants can register for TurboVote by going to

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