Office of the Provost


Remaining Engaged as the Election Approaches

[Email to U-M students]
Oct. 26, 2020

Dear U-M Students:

The 2020 U.S. presidential election is next week Tuesday. I’m writing to encourage all who are U.S. citizens to vote, in person or by absentee ballot, by the end of the day on November 3rd.

The right to vote is considered by many to be the preservative of all other rights because it provides citizens with the ability to elect officials who will protect and defend the rights delineated in the Bill of Rights. In voting we are acting to protect civil rights and liberties to the individual—like freedom of speech, press, and religion – and to ensure rules for due process of law.

We’ve worked hard to make voting easier than in past years. And I want to be clear that the Washtenaw County Stay-in-Place order allows undergraduates to leave their residences for voting or to attend election related activities. At the Museum of Art, you can register to vote, pick up a ballot, and vote all at the same time. If you planned to vote elsewhere but would prefer to switch to Ann Arbor, you can do that at UMMA as well. The museum has expanded hours that make all of this convenient.

This semester is very challenging for all of us. The pandemic restrictions and uncertainties about the election have made it hard to feel connected to one another and to be part of activities that are usual in the fall and in an election year. There are many ways to be part of student organizations and activities virtually and I encourage you to take advantage of them.

For example, please consider participating in the activities that are part of the Democracy and Debate Theme Semester. Among them is a conversation in which four of our students put questions about voting to Trevor Noah. In this discussion, Mr. Noah noted that it is important to vote so that you know you made the effort to impact the lives of others. (The password for accessing the conversation is vote2020.)

I’d also like to draw your attention to two of the many upcoming activities that are being offered.

On Wednesday, October 28th, faculty experts will discuss Counting Votes and Determining Results, offering insights into electoral processes.

On election eve, Monday, November 2nd, you can join Dance for Democracy, a virtual dance party with music, PSAs and special guest appearances to celebrate democratic engagement across the partisan divide.

As a final reminder, Big Ten football is not the only important contest this fall. The Big Ten Voting Challenge is also underway. Overall, the average student voter turnout rate at Big Ten universities in 2018 was 43%. Minnesota led the way at 59%. In this election, let’s set a new standard for student voter turnout, demonstrating what it means to be leaders and best!


Susan M. Collins
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
Edward M. Gramlich Collegiate Professor of Public Policy
Professor of Ecnomics