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As student body President Weston Bayes and Vice President Sydney Altfield approach the end of their terms, UCF's Student Government Association begins the three-month process to find its new executive leaders.

The first step is the circulation of petitions, where potential candidates acquire the signatures of 500 UCF students to endorse their candidacy, according to the SGA Title IV Election Statutes. Petition documents become available on Monday.

Rather than being in direct support of a candidate, Bayes said, students' petition signatures instead allow them the opportunity to campaign and be on the ballot.

"Signing isn't voting — it's just giving the opportunity for that person to run," Bayes said.

Following the petitions comes the declaration of candidacy. Any student who collects the requisite 500 signatures must have his or her candidacy signed and endorsed by the Senate secretary, who will post a notice of the student's candidacy on the election bulletin board. This process occurs between March 2 and March 5.

A presidential debate is then held on March 26 at 7 p.m. in the Pegasus Ballroom. The debate provides a forum for the candidates to discuss their campaign platforms and respond to the concerns of the UCF student body.

The final step is the election itself, which is held March 30 through April 2 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on campus. The candidates who collect the majority of votes — defined by the election statutes as 50 percent plus one — during this period are elected as the new SGA president and vice president, who occupy terms lasting one year.

If no candidate achieves a majority vote, a runoff election is held the week following the posting of the election votes between the two candidates who received the most votes.

These will be the first presidential elections in which handing out free food and similar items is prohibited during campaigning. Instead of slices of pizza, students campaigning will only be allowed to hand out business cards, fliers and other promotional items.

Altfield said she thinks this new policy may allow students to be more engaged during elections, and make more educated decisions about their votes.

"It's going to be a culture change for students who are used to voting, but in the long run, it will benefit the student body as well as the results," Altfield said.

Reflecting on her term coming to an end, Altfield said she hopes the new torchbearers will continue to advance upon what she and Bayes have achieved.

"I think Weston and I tackled platform points that we wanted to accomplish ... We hope that whoever is next to come will build upon it just like we built upon Melissa and Jacob."

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Bernard Wilchusky is Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @facilesweater or email him at BernardW@CentralFloridaFuture.com.

Nada Hassanein is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @nhassanein_or email her at NadaH@CentralFloridaFuture.com.

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