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Monday, April 15, 2024

More than 7,000 UF students vote in the first day of Fall Student Government elections 

Students can vote for Change Party, Vision Party, Gator Party, Pizza Party or write-in candidates

After recent controversies surrounding UF Student Government, polls for SG elections opened Tuesday morning for students to elect their Fall 2023 Senators. 

Supervisor of Elections Ethan Halle reported 7,208 votes were cast after the first day — about 300 more votes compared to Fall 2022 — where 6,844 votes were cast. However, lower numbers the past year could be from students evacuating due to Hurricane Ian.

Polling locations varied in traffic. Reitz held lines of dozens while areas like Springs Library and Recreation Center saw small pockets of voters slowly trickle in over the afternoon.

Christopher Gonzalez, an 18-year-old UF music and political science freshman, said he decided to vote just to vote, but found polling locations inconvenient. 

“The voting process itself was pretty easy,” Gonzalez said. “I [just wish] there were more polling stations and more accessibility to voting, especially on the east side of campus.” 

Students voted for a variety of reasons, from personal connections with candidates to concern over party policy. 

Gabe Tio, a 19-year-old UF business sophomore, voted for Vision Party. Tio said he doesn’t follow SG closely, but decided to vote after hearing one of his fraternity brothers, who is in Vision, explain the parties.  

“One of my fraternity members, he went from Gator Party to Vision and he gave a brief rundown,” he said.

Vision Party’s platform includes promoting transparency and prioritizing the student body — a flyer Vision canvassers handed out included wanting to better improve ACCENT Speaker Bureau, an SG agency.

Giancarlos Rodriguez, a 21-year-old UF political science senior, said he voted for Change Party because of the “changes they’ve brought to campus.” 

“Change got us the 24/7 library, and I’ve seen time and time again Vision-Gator reject contraceptives and menstrual products,” Rodriguez said. 

Rodriguez believes Vision and Gator Party are all “bark and no bite” and has more confidence that Change Party can better UF. 

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Change Party’s platform has placed an emphasis on graduate students and graduate assistants, reproductive health and more resources for fine arts students. 

Some students voted in wake of allegations levied toward SG parties — such as the recent debate surrounding possible Senators who may have broken public record laws, and others who may face legal action for private, leaked recordings. 

Caro Sena, a 20-year- old UF psychology junior, voted for Change Party because she believes there was a lot of corruption within SG. 

“If you’re not genuine and use weird tactics to get people to vote for you, it just turns me off as a student,” Sena said. “The whole thing with sororities and fraternities, too. It’s just weird.” 

Students can continue to vote Oct. 4 from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. 

Vivienne Serret, Megan Howard, Jinelle Vazquez and Aidan Bush contributed to this report.

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