In the most contested Student Government election since Fall 2015, UF students elected a bipartisan Student Senate.
Both registered parties, Impact and Inspire, tried to out-chant each other in the Reitz Union atrium for about five minutes as they waited for results Wednesday night. At about 10 p.m., Erica Baker, the supervisor of elections, announced that 20 Inspire senators and 29 Impact senators were elected. One Senate seat was tied between two Impact senators and will be decided by the new Senate on its first meeting Tuesday.
Compared to last Fall, 1,206 more students voted, according to Alligator archives. Over the two election days, 8,599 ballots were cast compared to 7,393 last Fall.
As seats were called for Inspire, party president Ben Lima jumped up and down, pumping his fists. Impact senators stood with their jaws open, stopping to cheer when seats were won for their party.
Before the results were announced, Kylie Werk, one of the Impact campaign managers, said she was nervous.
Afterward, Werk said she was happy with how Impact did. The elected senators are “willing and ready” to work with Inspire, she said.
Werk said she believes a bipartisan senate will produce the best results because elected officials will be forced to forget party affiliations and work together.
“Both Impact and Inspire candidates worked hard to fill a seat,” Werk said. “I think the campaign experience taught every kid here that being in Senate is a privilege.”
As people filed out of the Reitz, Werk addressed the crowd of Impact candidates and supporters.
“Even if you lost your seat tonight, it’s going to be OK,” Werk said. “This is not the end of your time in Impact family.”
Ryan Emery, an Impact candidate who lost his District C seat, said he thinks he would have been elected if more people had voted.
“The Student Body is not voting as much as it should,” he said. “I think it’s a different case for each person.”
But he doesn’t think online voting would solve the issue, he said, declining to elaborate further.
Inspire party president Ben Lima said he was happy with the election results and optimistic about working with Impact senators.
“It was time to rekindle our democracy, to bring another voice to Student Body that’s organized and that can create debate so that we can move forward together,” Lima said. “We intend to collaborate amongst our senators of our own party, but also across the Senate.”
Lima, who won a seat in District D, thinks even though Inspire won a substantial amount of seats, there’s still a lot of work to be done.
“One thing throughout this election that we’ve noticed is that a lot of students are excited for change,” Lima said.
Joel Kratt, who won a Tolbert Area seat for Inspire, said he looks forward to working with his constituents.
“It’s really humbling and really thrilling to be representing my district,” Kratt said, out of breath from cheering.
District C Inspire candidate Bianka Ramirez lost her seat by one vote.
Although she lost, Ramirez said she still felt amazing after the election results. She plans to be involved in Inspire Party and said she’s proud of the progress they’ve started.
“I think in order to be successful, you have to go through a lot of failures,” she said. “We still have this movement, we still have this momentum, we still have inspiration; that’s why we’re called Inspire.”
Read the full election results here.