October 14, 2020

Election Day 2020, university holiday approach

Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, is almost here. That day, there will be no classes and the university will be closed, with the exception of essential personnel.
 
President M. Roy Wilson announced that the university had officially declared Election Day a university holiday in February, at a reception formalizing the first-ever polling location on campus in the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne Law.

What is now Detroit’s Precinct 149 in the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne Law will have eight socially distanced voting booths.

“It’s a special day off; it’s a day off with a purpose, let’s make it count,” said Robin Johnson, Assistant to the Dean of Wayne Law, who supervises the building during elections.

Brandon Shamoun, coordinator of student engagement in the Dean of Students Office and the polling site assessor, said no classes should be held and no assignments due on Election Day.

“A lot of our students have families, they work and they go to school, so they are busy,” said Shamoun. “This holiday gives them time to ensure they can go and vote. It really showcases the university’s commitment to civic engagement.”

With the March and August elections under their belt, several Wayne State employees and students are preparing the polling location for what they anticipate will be a strong voter turnout.

“This election will be a passionate one for a lot of people,” Johnson said. “There are a lot of issues that are important to people based on the fervor I’m hearing.”

What is now Detroit’s Precinct 149 in the Keith Center will have eight socially distanced voting booths.

“There is a lot to consider with the pandemic,” Kamali Clora, a fourth-year public health student who has served as chairperson for the polling location. “We will be implementing protocols to ensure voters are comfortable and safe in fulfilling their civic duty.”

With the March and August elections under their belt, several Wayne State employees and students are preparing the polling location for what they anticipate will be a strong voter turnout.

Those protocols include wiping down voting booths after every use, monitoring building occupancy, providing hand sanitizer and encouraging all voters to wear a face covering.

The City of Detroit Department of Elections has provided trainings and is supplying face coverings, gloves and hand sanitizer.

“Now is the time to utilize your voice, and your vote is your voice,” said Clora. “Figure out what is the best way for you to vote and make a voting plan. If you’re going to a polling location, make sure you get their safely and on time to fulfill your civic duty.”

Student Senate has initiated the “Warriors Vote” campaign by launching the Motivote platform, and a series of voter education events help unite the campus’s voting initiatives. Motivote allows students and employees to access voter information resources, participate in voter-engagement activities and spread voting awareness.

The on-campus polling location is the result of a WSU Student Senate initiative that began following the 2016 election, when students complained that their previously designated off-campus polling location was not convenient and a barrier to voting.