With no games on Election Day, Pistons and NBA urge fans to vote during midterm elections

Mike Curtis
The Detroit News

Erika Swilley and some of the Pistons staff won't have to do double duty this year.

Swilley, the Pistons' vice president of community and responsibility, had to split her staff because the team had a game on Election Day last year. That won't be the case this November.

In an effort to prioritize civic engagement, the NBA announced Tuesday that it will not schedule any games on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8.

The move gives team employees — including but not limited to concession workers and ushers — more time to vote. It also gives them the opportunity to take a more active role in this year's midterm elections, if they choose to do so. 

"Not having games on Election Day is huge for us," Swilley said. "We have been active participants in this space for a long time. We have a dropbox in front of our practice facility where people can drop off their absentee ballots or vote early, but we also turn our practice facility into a receiving board."

Detroit Clerk Janice Winfrey, Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem and Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson reveal an official ballot drop box in front of the Detroit Pistons Performance Center in Detroit, Michigan on September 24, 2020.

The Pistons have ramped up their civic engagement efforts over the past few years, which most notably included using their Midtown practice facility as a voting center for the 2020 election.

They played a game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Election Day last season and the team had to divide its staff into two, Swilley said. Half of the team's employees worked at the practice facility to help run its election receiving board and the other half went to Little Caesars Arena to work the game.

The Pistons plan to hold a receiving board for the November midterm elections as well. The NBA previously announced that the league will use the platform of games played on Monday, Nov. 7, to amplify the work of each team to promote civic engagement in their respective markets and to share important voting resources.

The announcement comes on the same day the league teased the release of the full regular-season schedule for next season, which will be unveiled on Wednesday at 3 p.m.

The NBA's decision to not hold any games on Election Day is centered on promoting nonpartisan civic engagement and encouraging fans to make a plan to vote during midterm elections.

"This gives us a lot more flexibility knowing that we won't have any conflicts that day," Swilley said. "This initiative is very important to our organization, so we are thrilled to see the NBA support it."

The league is hoping to allow more opportunities for voters to map out a plan for Election Day, and everyone from fans to arena workers can benefit. 

"Over the next few months, teams will distribute information on their state’s voting process and voter registration deadlines and are encouraging everyone to communicate this information with families and friends to ensure they all have a plan," the league said in a statement.