voting

Jonelle Joseph wasn’t sure if she wanted to talk to people about voting Friday afternoon, but a free bagel drew her in.

The 21-year-old UF sociology senior was one of about 150 students who spoke to political groups from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the Plaza of the Americas during UF Vote Everywhere’s Bagels and Ballots event.

“I thought about going up to the table, but then I saw the bagel and thought, ‘OK, I’ll eat and listen too,’” she said.

Joseph signed a pledge to vote card at the UF Vote Everywhere table. She said it’s important for students to vote.

“If we don’t get people in office that stand for the same thing we do, we’ll just be letting the old people do it,” she said.

About 100 plain bagels with cream cheese were given out during the event, said Jaime Roy, a UF Vote Everywhere ambassador. The group wanted to make the ballot approachable, Roy said.

“This year’s ballot is very long, which can be intimidating and confusing,” she said. “We wanted something fun and easy going to go with it to put people at ease.”

This election’s ballot is the longest one in 20 years, with 35 amendments, referenda and elected positions for voters to decide on, said Megan Newsome, a Puffin Democracy fellow with the Andrew Goodman Foundation, which funds UF Vote Everywhere.

Students could speak with UF College Democrats, the Keith Perry Campaign and UF Vote Everywhere. UF College Republicans planned to attend but had to cancel because the group’s representative got sick, Newsome said.

Students got a bagel if they visited each group. Roy said this was to make sure students know what their options are come Election Day.

“We don’t want students to fall back on what’s comfortable,” she said. “They may not realize it, but the other party may give them a more balanced view.”

Alachua County Commissioner candidate Gregory Caudill and Democratic State Senate candidate Dr. Kayser Enneking, who shared a table with College Democrats, also spoke to students at the event.

Early voting begins Monday, and students can vote at the Reitz Union after a federal judge ruled college campuses could serve at early voting sites, Roy said.

Lauren Gordon, a 19-year-old Santa Fe nursing sophomore, said she was interested in talking to the groups because it’s better to hear from people first hand instead of only trusting social media.

Gordon was raised Republican, but her grandparents are Democrats. She didn’t think UF College Democrats would influence her voting decision, but she wanted to talk to both sides, she said.

“They probably won’t change my mind, but maybe they can open my mind,” she said.