Pistons’ Election Day effort a highlight of organization’s involvement in community

Detroit News

Rod Beard
 
| The Detroit News

Detroit — Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson opened the drop box, inserted her ballot envelope and closed the door.

That was it; it was that simple.

Benson, along with Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem and coach Dwane Casey, took part in a small ceremony Tuesday morning to demonstrate the ease of dropping off completed ballots on Election Day, for those who already received absentee ballots.

Having the drop box in front of the Pistons’ practice facility in midtown Detroit was just one of the ways in which the team fulfilled the goal of enhancing its voter engagement in the general election. The practice facility also will serve as a receiving board Tuesday night, with about 150 Pistons employees assisting as poll workers.

The drop boxes are one option for returning absentee ballots, due to the pandemic.

“First, 3.1 million citizens have voted in Michigan as of this morning, absentee,” Benson said. “That’s an extraordinary number — three times the number of people who voted absentee in November of 2016.”

Benson said she has not yet been informed of any voting irregularities or instances of voter intimidation, but her office is monitoring around the state to ensure a fair process for everyone.

She underscored the Pistons’ involvement since early June in being involved in the voting process and how it helped set a precedent for sports teams in the country.

“Before the trend began, and really through their leadership and their example, we saw teams all across the country open up their arenas, open up their facilities … and partnered with NBA teams to expand that even more, recruiting poll workers,” Benson said. “This what the Pistons have done back in August and now for November, and so grateful for their leadership.

“I can’t underscore that Detroit was the first metro area in the country that had every sports team stepping up to serve and ensure that we had safe elections this year. And that was entirely because of the leadership in the Pistons.”

Tellem said that it was important not only to put the Pistons’ name into the issue of voting and helping get the word out about voter engagement, but also to get the organization as a whole into the effort.

“We haven’t just talked the game — we’ve walked the talk. We have over 150 employees that are serving as poll workers today. I don’t think any organization can say that anywhere,” Tellem said. “I’m proud that it’s been everybody in the organization that really has been involved and engaged and wanting to do our best for this community.”

Rod.Beard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard

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