UCF’s voting precinct, Precinct 538, saw a 107.56% voter turnout in the 2020 election. Yes, that number is right. The 811 ballots cast in the precinct, which consists solely of students who live on campus, include early voting, vote by mail and in-person election day voting.
So how do you get more than 100% turnout?
This year, the deadline to register to vote was Oct. 6, and on that date, 754 voters were registered in the district. Nearly 6,000 students live on campus, but can choose to keep their parents’ or family’s address as their primary residence for various reasons. Since there is no deadline in Florida for registered voters who want to update their address, changes can happen up through Election Day.
Additional on-campus residents updated their addresses from Oct. 6 to Nov. 3, changing from other voting precincts to UCF’s and accounting for the higher-than-expected turnout.
“It is showing that students are getting more engaged,” says Danaë Rivera-Marasco ’15, communications and community outreach coordinator for the Orange County Supervisor of Elections. “UCF was showing strong turnout this entire election cycle, which was very promising.”
More than 10,000 Orange County registered voters cast their ballot during the early voting period at UCF’s Live Oak Event Center.
Since 2017, UCF has been recognized as a Voter Friendly Campus by NASPA, an association for the advancement, health and sustainability of the student affairs profession, for its initiatives to register and encourage students to vote. UCF was also ranked among Washington Monthly’s best public institutions for student voting.
Alumni in Office
Seven UCF alumni and one graduate student who ran for the Florida Legislature won their districts in Tuesday’s election.
Although they don’t always agree on political issues, pursued different careers and attended UCF at different times, they clearly share a passion for politics.
Amber Mariano ’17, a Republican, was re-elected in District 36 in New Port Richey to serve her third term in Florida’s House of Representatives. In 2016 at age 21 while still a student at UCF, she became the youngest person elected to the Florida House. Mariano, a Burnett Honors Scholar, graduated from UCF with a bachelor’s degree in political science.
Anna Eskamani ’12 ’15MNM ’15MPA, a Democrat, was re-elected in District 47 in Orange County for her second term. The Burnett Honors Scholar received her bachelor’s degrees in political science and interdisciplinary studies with a minor in women’s and gender studies and earned master’s degrees in nonprofit management and public administration all from UCF. She is attending UCF as a doctoral student in public affairs and was recently recognized with the Distinguished Alumni Award.
Carlos Guillermo Smith ’03, a Democrat, was re-elected in District 49 in Orange County for a third term. When he was first elected in 2016, Smith became Florida’s first openly LGBTQ Latino lawmaker. A marketing graduate, he was instrumental in the creation of the Pulse mural on UCF’s Student Union in honor of UCF student Juan Ramon Guerrero and alumnus Christopher Andrew “Drew” Leinonen ’07 ’09MA, who were killed at the Orlando nightclub.
Chris Latvala ’04, a Republican, was re-elected in District 67 (areas of Largo and Clearwater), where he has held the seat since 2014. He first studied at Valencia Community College and transferred through DirectConnect to UCF where he graduated with his bachelor’s degree in history.
Randolph Bracy ’07MBA ’08MS, a Democrat, represents District 11 in Orange County in the Florida Senate. He served in District 45 of the Florida House of Representatives from 2012–16 before he was elected senator in 2016. He earned his master’s degrees in business administration and sports business management.
Rene Plasencia ’96, a Republican, won his bid for re-election in District 50 in East Orlando and Brevard County. The Orlando native works for Orange County Public Schools and first won election to the Florida House in 2014, when he initially represented District 49. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
Tom Leek ’92, a Republican, was re-elected in District 25 in Port Orange, Daytona and New Smyrna Beach for a third term. Leek, who earned his bachelor’s degree in history at UCF and later earned his law degree from Stetson University, was first elected in 2016.
Ramon Alexander, a Democrat, is enrolled in graduate classes at UCF, pursuing a certificate in nonprofit management. Alexander, who ran unopposed in District 8 in Tallahassee, is a nonprofit executive and a graduate of Florida A&M University who has served in the House since 2016.