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USF prepares for Election Day, post-election week

The Marshall Student Center will host the only on-campus voting site — Precinct 353 — from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

As the only on-campus voting site, the Marshall Student Center (MSC) is planning for the ups and downs of Election Day with a system of measures to ensure voters can safely cast their ballots.

The site, located on the first floor of the MSC, will operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. It will be the only voting site for Precinct 353, which is designated just for the USF Tampa campus.

“We’re excited to be able to be a location and hope that it helps encourage people to vote,” said Dean of Students Danielle McDonald. 

A group of volunteers from the Supervisor of Elections office will be at the site to control the flow of voters coming in and out and to enforce one-way traffic and social distancing.

The route to the voting site, which will be on the first floor of the MSC, inside the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement (CLCE), will be clearly marked with signage for additional support in enforcing social distancing.

“We don’t know what to expect, but we are planning for a high turnout to make sure we are ready for all scenarios,” said MSC Director Matthew Marshall. 

Voters will be required to wear a mask at all times when inside the precinct. If a voter doesn’t have a mask, they will be provided with one, according to Marshall. 

There will also be a Hillsborough County deputy present at the polling place to enforce a “150 feet” rule where campaign signs and solicitors can’t be placed within 150 feet of the polling location. A map will be drawn so that these lines are clear. 

“[University Police] is procuring that map and will work with us and the Supervisor of Elections to ensure those areas are adequately marked on Tuesday,” said Marshall.

Other university departments will also be involved in election activities, including ones for after the election is over. 

The CLCE is hosting different informative events on how to remain civically engaged and maneuver a world postelection. 

In partnership with the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the CLCE will host the Post Election Community Hour from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m on Wednesday to create a space where students can “focus on support, self-care, conversation with civility and sharing thoughts on creating social change,” according to its page on BullSync.

More events will be hosted by the CLCE throughout the week following the election, including an event called “What Now? Citizenship in a Post-Election Environment,” where it will provide more information on how to be actively engaged as a citizen during a time where the political climate is tense from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Nov. 10.

These events will happen via Microsoft Teams and people of all political affiliations are encouraged to participate. 

USF’s Counseling Center will also be hosting events throughout the same time frame, including workshops on managing election-related stress and one-time counseling sessions to discuss these stresses. 

One-time counseling sessions started Oct. 26 and will be held until Nov. 6 at varying times. There will be multiple counselors available from the Tampa campus for students for same-day appointments, compared to usual monthlong waits for those who try to schedule visits at this time during the semester. 

The workshops will also be held from Oct. 26 to Nov. 6 on a weekly basis to address ways to cope with stress, such as meditation healing from trauma, tolerating distress and processing grief. 

“I think it’s incredibly important that our students continue to take care of themselves, to continue practicing having conversations with civility and then practicing that self-care and knowing when to step away and focus back again on academics,” said McDonald. “Because that part’s not going away, and we need to make sure that everybody is in a place where they can be the most successful that they can be.”