Students must vote at the USF-area precinct for which they are registered. There are two combined precincts in the Marshall Student Center, one at the Hillel Center and one at John Knox Village. Voting precincts are determined by address. Students can find their precinct at http://registration.elections.myflorida.com/.
The Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections allowed USF to retain its four polling locations for today’s midterm elections – an action Student Government (SG) officials hope will spark student interest in voting when coupled with last week’s on-campus senatorial and gubernatorial debates.
“In 2008, we had 1,200 voters who were registered on campus, and 85 percent of those turned out to vote, which is extremely good numbers in terms of turnout,” said Frank Hernandez, a graduate student majoring in education and public policy and SG director of Governmental Affairs.
However, student body President Cesar Hernandez, a senior majoring in biomedical sciences, said voter turnout has decreased over the years.
“We are in danger of having the polling locations removed from campus,” he said. “A couple of people including Spencer (Montgomery, SG vice president said) the polls would only close on campus if more students do not come out to vote on campus on Election Day.”
Many of the issues plaguing voter turnout are related to students remaining registered in their hometowns and not voting on campus because of class schedules, Frank Hernandez said.
In order to solve these problems, he said SG has made an effort to include early voting sites on campus.
“(The reason this hasn’t happened yet is) because early voting locations have to be held in a public place, like a library … and the campus library is technically private to USF students,” he said.
Francine Bouyett, a freshman majoring in engineering, said she is unable to vote on campus because she is not registered in this precinct and thus will not vote. Even if students are registered voters in other precincts, they cannot vote on campus unless they are registered in precinct 561.
“I am registered in Ft. Lauderdale, and I didn’t get my ballot sent to me,” Bouyett said. “It’s not that I’m not interested, because I was a poll worker for two years, but I just couldn’t get my ballot to me (in time).”
Frank Hernandez said students who are registered voters can still change their precinct today at any polling location and vote for the state’s next governor and U.S. senator.
“I encourage students to vote on campus,” Cesar Hernandez said. “The more students vote, the more likely we get to keep our polling stations (in the future).”
Frank Hernandez said polling stations are available in the Marshall Student Center and the Hillel Center on Sycamore Drive. An off-campus polling location is located in John Knox Village at 4100 E. Fletcher Ave.
He said polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., but times may vary by location.