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How the Detroit Pistons are promoting voting awareness during crucial election year

The Detroit Pistons have long encouraged citizens to exercise their constitutional rights at the ballot box.

With Election Day fast approaching, Pistons Coach Dwane Casey and Vice Chairman Arn Tellem both recently wrote op-eds that appeared in two of Detroit’s major daily newspapers reminding the community that voting is vital. The opinion pieces appeared after the Pistons co-sponsored a “National Vote Early Day” with cable network MTV. The work is a continuation of the advocacy that received recognition during the 2020 election season.   

Tellem wrote in The Detroit News: “Voting rights and election integrity are some of the most important political issues of our time.” 

He added: “(Voting is) the foundation of our democracy: One person, one vote. It needs protecting. And the Pistons organization is doing its part to promote civic engagement and get out the vote.” 

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has recognized the Pistons’ support in the past, and she joined the Pistons and MTV at Little Caesars Arena before the recent game against the Atlanta Hawks to encourage early voting.

“It’s critical that citizens step up right now and do what they can to engage people and ensure they know the power of their voice and the importance of their vote,” Benson said. "The Pistons have been a longstanding leader nationally and here in Detroit in making sure that happens.”

Michigan voters are casting ballots to decide the state’s next governor, attorney general and secretary of state, among many other local races. Michiganders are also voting on three proposals that address term limits, voting rights and reproductive rights. 

Benson noted that the 2020 election had the highest voter turnout in Michigan’s history, and she said that happened because of the work of the Pistons and others.

Benson made her remarks outside of LCA while Pistons fans visited local civic engagement groups. Food, music and beverages from local vendors were available for fans while learning about voting rights.  

“This partnership with MTV has been amazing and we used many of our local resources to amplify this event,” Pistons vice president of community and social responsibility Erika Swilley said. “This is just one of many efforts we have made to spread the word on the importance of voting.”  

Pia Love, who attended the event, was appreciative of the voter outreach event.

“It’s very important because there's an apathetic attitude toward voting here in Detroit and providing awareness towards voting is a great thing,” Love said  

The Detroit Pistons are a ‘community asset’

When Pistons owner Tom Gores purchased the Pistons in 2011, he called the franchise a “community asset.”

When the pandemic struck in early 2020, those words were prescient when the Pistons allowed the Henry Ford-Pistons Performance Center to assist with the presidential election year. Those efforts continued this year with a voting drop box for absentee ballots still located outside the PPC. Election day will be a paid off-day for Pistons employees to ensure all employees can vote and volunteer as election workers. The PPC will also serve as a receiving center for precincts Tuesday, which is a continuation of 2020 and the August primary.

Pistons standouts Saddiq Bey, Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey are promoting the importance of voting on billboards throughout the city directing voters to DetroitVotes.org

The NBA announced earlier this year that no games would occur on Election Day.

“We want to make sure people know their voice is heard and recognize voting should be a celebratory thing,” Benson said. “It’s something we do with pride as Americans, as Michiganders.”