Updates to stay-in-place order clarify students can leave home to vote, study alone on campus

Friday, October 23, 2020 - 2:29pm

Despite the stay-in-place order, the University of Michigan continues to encourage students to vote.

Despite the stay-in-place order, the University of Michigan continues to encourage students to vote. Buy this photo
Michael Bagazinski/Daily

University of Michigan undergraduates can vote and participate in election activities as well as study by themselves in designated areas on campus, according to a Friday update to the stay-in-place order from the Washtenaw County Health Department.

Registering to vote, working at polling stations and participating in campaign outreach are all allowed.

Students can also go on campus to access “essential technology” at designated areas with single person study spaces. Permitted activities include studying, printing or participating in virtual classes. The order still prohibits studying in groups or going to study at coffee shops, restaurants or “other establishments where multiple students/people may gather, even if they are on campus or in U-M buildings.”

Students must follow social distancing guidelines and wear face masks if they leave their homes.

The stay-in-place order issued by the county Tuesday to prevent further spread of COVID-19 initially included a number of exceptions for students to leave their residences, including voting. The University continues to encourage students to vote.

University President Mark Schlissel stressed this exception to the order in his weekly COVID-19 update email Friday morning.

“The Washtenaw County Health Department Stay in Place order specifically exempted election related activities at polling places, including going out to register to vote and to vote on or prior to election day,” Schlissel wrote. “Additionally, the order exempts working or volunteering, which could include working at a polling place, to the extent the work cannot be done remotely and you have the approval of the employer.”

Students are encouraged to continue to make use of the Ann Arbor City Clerk satellite office in the University of Michigan Museum of Art, which opened last month to assist students in registering and voting in the upcoming election. As of Oct. 13, more than 2,600 students registered to vote and around 3,000 voted in-person or returned their absentee ballot at the UMMA. 

With 11 days to Election Day, UMMA will extend its hours to remain open on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. beginning on Saturday. 

Macy Lighthall, assistant manager at the UMMA store, said she has observed some difference in student traffic since the stay-in-place order took effect but says it remains unclear how exactly it will affect the number of students voting. 

“The day before the stay-at-home mandate, or order, we had a line for voting… almost to the street … along with full capacity inside the building,” Lighthall said. “And then today, for a very nice day on Friday, around noon, it’s been very quiet. We don’t have a full line, we are not at full capacity, so… I guess I would say there’s definitely been a difference but I don’t know the numbers exactly for the week.”

Daily News Reporter Angelina Little can be reached at angelit@umich.edu


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