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USF to host straw poll on upcoming election

A straw poll to evaluate how USF students, staff and faculty will likely vote in the upcoming elections will be held at stations across campus Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Students who vote in the simulated election will fill out a ballot that mirrors the options that voters will likely see on official ballots in November.  

At the top of the poll will be the Florida gubernatorial candidates, including Rick Scott, Charlie Crist and Adrian Wyllie. 

The mock ballot will also represent the three amendments voters will decide on next month. These include whether to fund the Land Acquisition Trust Fund, to allow the governor to fill judicial vacancies, and to legalize medical marijuana. 

Tuesday’s participants may also select candidates running for positions on the Florida Cabinet, such as for the chief financial officer, attorney general and commissioner of agriculture. 

At the end of polling, participants will fill out their age, sex, race and political affiliation. Susan MacManus, a USF political science professor and a political analyst, will use this demographic data to better predict how elections could play out in November. 

Pi Sigma Alpha national political science honor society chapter president Masiel Pelegrino, who organized the poll, said USF is a decent representation of Florida’s population, in terms of ethnicity and gender.

“We can get a pretty accurate result of how Florida will vote in November,” she said.

The last time the straw poll was conducted was in 2012 during the presidential election. It accurately predicted that Barack Obama would win reelection.

While the main point is to measure the students’ opinions of the upcoming gubernatorial elections, Pelegrino said she hopes the poll will also politically engage the USF community to go out and vote during the actual election.

Detailed information packets regarding the gubernatorial candidates and the amendments will be available at polling stations located at the Library, the Marshall Student Center, the Business Administration Building and Cooper Hall. 

Pollsters, who include students from MacManus’s Florida Politics class and volunteers from Pi Sigma Alpha, the Honors College and Student Government, will also visit large classes to administer the straw poll.

Pelegrino said everyone, staff and faculty included, is encouraged to vote. Participants do not need to be registered to vote to take the poll. 

Pollsters expect to know the results by the end of the day. MacManus will then send the results and corresponding analysis to Florida media outlets.