U-M leaders stress voter participation for campus community


Nov. 3 is Election Day, but this year that simply means the last day of a long, intense and — with restrictions driven by a worldwide coronavirus pandemic — unique “election season.”

Many Michiganders have cast their ballots early, either by mail or delivering them in person to municipal clerks’ offices and drop boxes around the state. Others will head to their polling place between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Nov. 3.

In recent days, University of Michigan leaders have sent a series of messages to faculty, staff and students reminding them not only about voting procedures — some of which have changed from past elections — but also about their responsibility as citizens to exercise their voting right.

“Fair and equitable access to voting is critical to the integrity of our democracy,” President Mark Schlissel said in an Oct. 28 post to his On the Agenda website. “Our mission at the U-M is to develop ‘leaders and citizens who will challenge the present and enrich the future.’ Voting assures you the opportunity to do both.”

Besides the presidential contest, voters will decide races for U.S. Senate and House of Representatives; state House of Representatives, Supreme Court and Board of Education; governing boards at U-M, Michigan State and Wayne State universities; and local, school district and judicial offices. There also are two statewide ballot issues, and a variety of local ones.

Last week, Schlissel emailed faculty and staff, and Provost Susan M. Collins and Vice President for Student Life Martino Harmon sent similar messages to students, reminding them of the various ways they can cast their ballots, if they haven’t already done so.

These reminders include:

  • People can register and vote up to 8 p.m. Nov. 3 at their city or township clerk’s office. Faculty, staff and students are who live in Ann Arbor can do so at the satellite Ann Arbor City Clerk office in the U-M Museum of Art.
  • Those who have completed or are planning to complete absentee ballots, but have not yet mailed them, should deliver them in person to their city or township clerk, or to a designated drop box. Ballots must be received by 8 p.m. Nov. 3 in order to be counted.
  • Voters planning to cast their ballot in person can verify their registration, confirm their polling place, and review a sample ballot at the Secretary of State’s Michigan Voter Information Center.
  • The Washtenaw County Health Department’s stay-in-place order for undergraduates expires at 7 a.m. Nov. 3. But even before then, the county has said, U-M students can leave their residence to vote, register to vote, work as poll workers or watchers, or participate in or volunteer for any planned campaign or election events.
  • Schlissel asked supervisors to make accommodations whenever possible for all employees to be able to vote, and he encouraged faculty to avoid scheduling exams and other difficult-to-miss activities and content on Election Day.

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