The Detroit Pistons are partnering with Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to encourage everyone to vote in upcoming elections.
The Detroit Pistons are partnering with Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to encourage everyone to vote in upcoming elections.

The NBA team is joining Michigan’s Secretary of State and the Detroit City Clerk in a first-of-its-kind partnership to make sure your vote counts.

LANSING, MI — Some familiar faces are encouraging Michiganders to vote in this year’s elections.

“We’re trying to educate our community on what the issues are, who the candidates are, and what it’s all about,” Pistons head coach Dwane Casey said. “It’s very important that everyone participate.”

Coach Casey and the Detroit Pistons are working with Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to encourage voters to turn out for the November general election and the upcoming primary on August 4. 

While the Pistons and Secretary Benson are encouraging voting by any means, absentee voting is at the center of many conversations around the state, as it helps residents avoid large crowds and prevents the spread of the coronavirus.

“The Pistons and other sports leaders can serve as trusted sources of information,” Benson told The ’Gander, “educating voters not only about the importance of voting and getting registered, but how to exercise your choices to vote safely and securely this year.”

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In addition to standard absentee voting completed by mail, Michiganders may also return absentee ballots to their local county clerk’s office or drop them off at the new Midtown Detroit Pistons training facility.

The Henry Ford Pistons Performance Center will be used as a satellite voting center for the general election November 3. Through that date, people can register, vote, and return absentee ballots at the training facility.

Arn Tellum, vice president of Palace Sports and Entertainment, told conference call attendees last week that “the vote is the most powerful way we can attack injustice and bring about change.”

“That led to our discussions with the Secretary of State and to come up with this partnership and find ways we could educate voters and be civically engaged as an organization, a team, a community, and for a city that we care deeply about,” Tellem said.

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Secretary Benson called the collaboration “extraordinary.”

“It’s never been done before by any sports team,” she said. “Citizens will be able to go to the place where the Pistons [practice] to register to vote, turn in an absentee ballot, or vote on site.”

The joint effort has already gotten the nod of approval from basketball icon and philanthropist Lebron James, as he and Benson hope to replicate Michigan’s work in other states with an NBA presence.

For Michiganders who would rather not travel to Detroit, early voting is available now through Monday at local county clerks’ offices. 

On Election Day (and next week’s primary), voting will take place at voters’ assigned polling locations. Masks will be required and social distancing will be encouraged.

“I think the Pistons’ partnership with the Detroit City Clerk can really be an example of what voting should be,” Benson said. “An exciting celebration of citizens’ voices. I’m hoping that this will have a long-term impact on making democracy work for everyone.”

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