Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer and the Elections Service Center have been working to get USF students to the voting booth for the upcoming Florida Presidential Primary March 17.
Latimer said they’ll be coming to USF for the second year in a row so students can participate in the early voting process.
In Hillsborough County, 70 percent of registered voters cast their vote before primary election day, according to Latimer.
“I encourage people, especially students, to go vote the first week of early voting,” Latimer said. “That way, if there is a problem, they have a week to straighten it out.”
Students who are registered to either the Democratic or Republican party will be able to vote in the primary elections March 2-15 from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m in TECO Hall.
Unlike early voting, in which people can vote at any precinct in the county, during election day they are assigned to specific precincts where they can cast their vote based on their addresses.
If students do not wish to vote early or by mail, on primary election day they can vote at the Marshall Student Center (MSC), but only if they live on campus.
“The precinct is USF, so unless you are in student housing you are not going to be in that precinct,” Latimer said.
Director of Communications at the Election Services Center Gerri Kramer said Student Government (SG) is putting up a banner in the MSC from the Election Services Center that will let the students know that early voting is at TECO Hall, which is located in the Education Building.
They chose the hall because they said students are likely to recognize the Education Building and know where it is.
Latimer said he and his team believe that students ages 18 to 25 have a lot of power in elections when they show up to vote.
“In Hillsborough County, 18 to 25 year olds make up the second largest block of voters, only outdone by 60 and above,” Latimer said.
Kramer said she reached out to USF student organizations to ensure they’re encouraging voting on campus.
Kramer said SG is the main organization they are partnering up with, but they do work with others as well.
“The Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement have been holding meetings with a number of different groups” Kramer said.
If students are worried about finding parking to vote, Latimer said USF and the center worked together to make spots available for the event.
“There is free parking in front of our early voting site,” Latimer said.
Kramer said the parking location will be by the library and designated for voters with traffic guards monitoring the area to make sure only voters are parking in these spots.
Latimer is confident that students will show up to vote in this election since he has seen successful outcomes in years past.
“We were at the Yuengling Center in 2018 and we actually had at least one voter from every precinct in the county,” he said.
There are 390 precincts in Hillsborough County.
He encourages students to make sure they know their candidate is still running because the ballots were preprinted on Dec. 11.
For example, Cory Booker has withdrawn from the race, but his name will be seen on the ballot since he withdrew after they were printed.
Voters cannot revote, even if they vote for someone who has dropped out of the race.
Latimer said he believes one vote can make an impact in an election and encourages students to vote in all elections.
“It’s a tremendous amount of power,” Latimer said. “So whether [students] get out and use that power or not is going to be the question.”