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SG prepares for upcoming spring election

In-person debates will be returning for this year’s election, but they will also be available online for students from other campuses. ORACLE PHOTO/LEDA ALVIM

Student Government (SG) is in preparations to hold its spring 2022 general election, as every position is open for the student body to vote for.

Applications for the positions opened Jan. 10 and will be closing Jan. 28 at 11:59 p.m., followed by a rolling approval process by the SG Advising Office that ends Feb. 4.  

Each position requires that the candidate have a 2.5 GPA and be taking at least six credit hours as an undergraduate student. Graduate students can also run and are required to have at least a 3.0 GPA and be taking at least four credit hours. Any students with past conduct issues, suspensions or expulsions are prohibited from running for any position.  

As of Jan. 21, 17 students from the Tampa campus, six from the St. Pete campus and zero from the Sarasota-Manatee campus have applied for positions, according to Supervisor of Elections Savannah Carr.

For the campaign season, which begins Feb. 14 and runs through March 3, there are no rules currently in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 

More general campaign rules such as defining bribery and acceptable media will be covered in a series of informational meetings that will be available starting this week to candidates that were approved to run.

Town halls will be occurring Wednesday and Thursday at all three campuses, where students are invited to meet SG leadership, ask questions and learn about the upcoming election.

The Wednesday town halls will be from 6-7 p.m. at the Sarasota-Manatee campus in classroom A-217 and the St. Pete campus in the Student Life Center room 2100. 

Thursday’s town hall will be at the Tampa campus from 6-7 p.m. at the Marshall Student Center (MSC) room 4200. All of the town halls will also be available for students online via Microsoft Teams.

In-person debates are going to be returning to this election cycle as long as COVID-19 does not become a bigger problem for the health of students and staff, said Carr.  

Debates for positions like governor and lieutenant governor that only impact one campus will be restricted to the local level. The date and time of the presidential and vice-presidential debate have not been decided, but it will be held on the Tampa campus. 

Carr intends to make the debate hybrid so students from other campuses can attend and ask questions since the president and vice president impact all campuses.

This election will also feature amending the SG Constitution. Amendments being voted on will include lowering the number of Senate seats, consolidation of positions among the branches, funding resolutions and the installment of positions that encompass diversity engagement features, according to SG Attorney General Alliyah Edwards.  

Students will be equipped with detailed summaries of the specific amendments up for change or implementation during voting week. Before then, Edwards encouraged students to attend Senate meetings to witness and be a part of the process.

Voting begins Feb. 28 and runs through March 3. If needed, the Election Rules Committee will hold a run-off election March 8-9.

Voting will be done online for this election, but there will be “polling stations” on campus that provide students with a QR code to cast their vote. There will be one station consistently in front of the MSC in Tampa, the University Student Center in St. Pete and the entrance building on the Sarasota-Manatee campus, according to Carr. 

More polling stations will be rotated around the campuses to maximize availability and convenience for students.

In accordance with the SG Constitution, paper ballots will be available in the SG office, however, only as a last resort. Students are encouraged to vote online in places that provide computers and internet access, such as the library, before resorting to a paper ballot.