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University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus quiet on Election Day morning

A sign to register and vote is posted outside Ann Arbor City Clerk's satellite office at the University of Michigan Museum of Art on Nov. 3, 2020.
A sign to register and vote is posted outside Ann Arbor City Clerk's satellite office at the University of Michigan Museum of Art on Nov. 3, 2020. (Meredith Bruckner)

ANN ARBOR – University of Michigan’s central campus was fairly calm after the polls opened on Tuesday.

Save for a small line at the Michigan League at 7:30 a.m., students were still only trickling in to polling places on campus by late morning.

Many students on campus said they had already voted early, thanks to the Ann Arbor City Clerk’s satellite office at U-M’s Museum of Art, which registered 2,900 voters in three weeks as of Oct. 13. Long lines were reported at the satellite office on Monday night, though staff would not comment on where the figure stood on Tuesday.

According to Michigan’s Secretary of State, 7,067 new voters had registered as of Oct. 26 in the city of Ann Arbor. 55,500 absentee ballots were requested, 55,373 of them issued and 38,327 were returned.

Inside the polls on the second floor of the Michigan Union on Nov. 3, 2020. (Meredith Bruckner)

At the Michigan Union, precincts 1-12 and 1-1 recorded 22 and 49 voters by 10:30 a.m., respectively. Similarly at the Michigan League, precincts 3-2 and 3-1 recorded 51 and 48 voters by 10:45 a.m.

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Students campaigned for Democratic candidate Joe Biden on the Diag Tuesday morning, hours after U-M and the Washtenaw County Health Department lifted an emergency stay-in-place order for undergraduates.

Sophomore and Students for Biden organizer Ali Chesnick said she’s glad it’s over.

Sophomore Ali Chesnick campaigns for Joe Biden on the University of Michigan Diag on Nov. 3, 2020. (Meredith Bruckner)

“Lockdown has been very interesting,” said Chesnick. “It’s definitely tough to be even more confined to our homes than we may have been previously, but we’re working through it. I’ve definitely had a lot of nice bonding time with my friends that I live with so it’s been nice to spend some time together and not worry so much about the outside world and exposure to corona.”

The stay-in-place order was updated days after it was issued to allow students to vote and attend election-related activities.

Chesnick cast her vote early in September.

“I think it was the second day of early voting and it was really exciting,” she said. “It was my first time voting, so I was very happy to be able to be involved in that. It is definitely something I would recommend for the future, even after coronavirus.”

Local children hand out free snacks to voters on University of Michigan's campus on Nov. 3, 2020. (Meredith Bruckner)

Fellow sophomore Andrew Schaeffler said the lockdown was a “little grim.” He said it affected the group’s planning, but he believed the emergency measures were necessary.

“Obviously, during the stay-at-home order (Students for Biden) had to move to more virtual stuff, but nonetheless I’m happy to be out here safely interacting with people on the biggest day of the year,” he said.

The group, which coordinated with the official Michigan One Campaign, handed out free T-shirts, masks, signs and buttons next to a life size cutout of Biden.

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About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.