Benson, Detroit Pistons partner to bolster voter turnout 

    Henry Ford Detroit Pistons Performance Center | Ken Coleman

    Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced Wednesday that her department is partnering with the Detroit Pistons on a series of initiatives to promote voter awareness and participation in the upcoming Aug. 4 primary and Nov. 3 general elections.  

    “The Detroit Pistons are tremendous civic leaders and I am proud to partner with them to ensure more citizens are educated voters and active participants in our democracy,” Benson said.

    Benson advises the group More Than A Vote, which has been working with other teams to expand voting opportunities. The new organization, which includes basketball stars LeBron James and Jalen Rose, is dedicated to getting African Americans to register to vote and combatting voter suppression.

    Additionally, the Pistons organization will provide August and November election days in 2020 as company-wide paid days off to ensure all staff members can vote, volunteer as election workers and rally others to do the same.

    Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, May 18, 2019 | Andrew Roth

    Benson lauded the Pistons efforts to assist with voter participation and awareness for the upcoming elections and stressed the importance every individual has in making their voice heard.

    Pistons owner Tom Gores said that his organization is committed to promoting informed participation in the electoral process. 

    “We are pleased to partner with the Department of State on its efforts to register and enroll eligible voters for this year’s elections, and to provide our employees with the day off on election day to ensure they are able to get to the polls and make their voices heard,” Gores said. 

    Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey noted the need for volunteers to work at polling sites on Election Day.

    “The Detroit Pistons organization has deep roots in our community, supporting programs and initiatives that fundamentally make a difference in the lives of our residents,” said Winfrey.  “This is an organization that consistently, demonstrates positive corporate values, and acts as a role model for our children. I am excited about forging a long-term partnership with the Pistons organization, to raise voter awareness and participation in the democratic process.”

    Benson advising Black voting rights group led by LeBron James

    In partnership with Benson, Winfrey and the Pistons will carry out the following initiatives to promote civic engagement and voter participation in upcoming coming elections:

    • Partner with the Detroit City Clerk’s office to designate Henry Ford Detroit Pistons Performance Center as a voting “Satellite Center” for the November general election.
    • Coordinate Pistons employee volunteer program to work the polls in concert with the Detroit City Clerk’s office for both the August and November elections.
    • Partner with the Secretary of State’s office on a series of PSA videos utilizing Pistons players, coaches and personalities aimed at voter education, applying to vote by mail and “how to” videos to ensure ballots are filled out correctly and returned properly to be counted.
    • Build a voter registration page into the website that integrates directly with the Michigan Bureau of Elections so that individuals can register to vote online and submit their application to vote by mail.
    • Host live voter registration and education events with non-partisan community organizations featuring information on how to register, vote, complete and return voting ballots.
    Ken Coleman
    Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.