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Welcome, or welcome back, to Alachua County, Gators! Whether this fall marks the beginning of your college career or the beginning of the end of your college journey, you have the chance to make your voice heard in our community. 

While there are many ways to impact your community, voting is a foundational part — and one that is often overlooked by college students. Students are busy with just about everything else, and they sometimes neglect their own civic duty. 

During my three years in Gainesville studying at the University of Florida, I have been busy with many of the same things that other UF students are busy with. I’ve been going to football games, eating at Chick-fil-A three times a week, working in Student Government and — sometimes — studying for classes. 

Regardless of what you might be busy with, it is important to take the time to register to vote or update your voter registration so you can be ready for the 2020 election cycle. I believe in order to truly expand on and appreciate your time here in Alachua County and Gainesville, it is important that you engage with the larger community. There should be more to your time at UF than what lies between 13th Street and 34th Street. 

When you participate in Alachua County elections, you have the privilege of having a say in how your experience here is shaped. As a student, you are in a unique position. We can choose to register to vote in Alachua County or in our home counties — whichever we consider to be our legal residence.  

The Alachua County Supervisor of Elections office is not trying to sway you one way or another. Its goal is for you to get out and vote, whether in Alachua County or elsewhere. Many students choose to vote by mail in their community, while others may choose to register and vote in Alachua County. 

Whatever you choose to do, registering to vote or updating your voter registration is easy. If this is your first time registering, you can simply visit RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov and follow the instructions on the website. 

Additionally, in the Fall, the elections office will be celebrating National Voter Registration Day on Sept. 26. They will set up at multiple locations on campus between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to register voters and give out information on upcoming elections. 

If you intend to vote in Alachua County and need to update your registration, all you need to do is call the office at 352-374-5252 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Update now so that your information is current before Election Day, making it easier for everyone. 

Don’t forget to keep up with the office on Facebook or Instagram — just search Vote Alachua and you’ll find it. More information can be found at its website (VoteAlachua.com) as well. 

I wish you good luck in all your endeavors this year, and happy voting!

Henry Fair was a summer intern with the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections and served as the University of Florida Student Government’s Supervisor of Elections.