Lions partner with Michigan Secretary of State to protect elections and promote voter education

Detroit Lions - VoteAUGUST 25, 2020

The Detroit Lions announced today a partnership with Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to protect election integrity and promote voter awareness, rights and participation in conjunction with RISE to Vote and the NFL Votes initiative.

The Lions have elected to integrate this programming into their Detroit Lions Inspire Change social justice work, first launched in 2018, and historically focused on scholarship funding, social-education programs, and medical aid/health assistance.

"We all desire real and lasting social change, racial healing, abundant opportunity for all, and meaningful social justice progress in many aspects of our democracy," said Detroit Lions Principal Owner and Team Chairman Sheila Ford Hamp and her husband Steve Hamp. "For this to happen, for our democracy to be responsive and to improve, we all need to register to vote, learn about the candidates who are running for office, and then cast our votes in person or by absentee ballot. Our democracy is an inspiring and noble enterprise, but it is not perfect. It's time to fix that."

Working directly with Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey, the Lions identified the following avenues to foster civic engagement and voter turnout in the November 2020 election, based on the City of Detroit's current need:

Host receiving boards at Ford Field on election night Tuesday, November 3

  • Ford Field will play a direct role in protecting the integrity of Detroit's elections and supporting the administration of the November 3 election by serving as a location where election workers will deliver ballots and equipment after precincts close to be secured in case needed after Election Day. Ford Field will host eight of the city's 12 receiving boards, which are independent boards established to ensure the secure transmission of elections results and ballots voted in person at election precincts.

Detroit Lions personnel to serve as Election Workers

  • The Detroit Lions staff will be given Election Day as a paid day off to serve as election workers and assist in staffing Ford Field's Election Day operations.

Public Service Announcements

  • The Detroit Lions will be featured in a series of PSAs aimed at voter education, with topics ranging from applying to vote by mail as well as "how to" videos to ensure ballots are filled out correctly and returned properly to be counted. Athletes, coaches, and other team personnel will also provide individual testimonies of why voting matters to them.

"I am so proud that the Detroit Lions are the first NFL team in the country to announce their plans to dedicate their arena, staff, and other resources to support our elections," Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said. "Their leadership comes at a crucial time for our democracy and will fill critical needs for our voters and the City of Detroit."

The plan comes as a response to national calls for NFL teams to offer their arenas and personnel to support election administration this year initiated by Scott Pioli, former NFL executive and co-founder of RISE to Vote – a nonpartisan initiative of RISE (Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality). The Lions were one of the first NFL teams to partner with RISE to Vote on virtual voter education and participation events. These voter rights discussions featured Secretary Benson and were available to the full Lions roster and staff members, as well as Detroit Lions Charities and Inspire Change partner organizations, and were livestreamed on Detroit Lions social channels for the public.

NFL Votes is a league-wide initiative that is intended to include, support and encourage the voting and civic engagement efforts of NFL fans, players, club and league personnel, and NFL Legends from now to Election Day. This initiative provides a platform for the NFL family and focuses on three key components of the electoral process: voter education, voter registration and voter activation.

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