Detroit election 2020: How Detour will serve our r...

Detroit election 2020: How Detour will serve our readers

From absentee voting ins-and-outs to how candidates are talking about police reform, we want to make sure your concerns are heard and questions answered.

detroit elections voting 2020

As a small and relatively new media company — 2020 is the first time Detour Detroit is covering a presidential election — we know we have to put in the work to earn your trust. Why should you look to Detour for local election coverage? Simply put: because our number one goal is to provide election coverage that serves Detroit-area readers, and we’re doing that by asking you what you need to know and acting on your answers. 

We’re committed to fact-based journalism and analysis, as well as transparency and responsiveness to our audience. To that end, here’s an overview of how we’re working to serve you this election season.

How Detour Detroit is covering the election

Here at Detour Detroit, we have an obsessively local mindset. We strive to produce impactful news coverage that provides context for Detroit and metro area readers to know what’s going on in the city. We unravel big, complicated issues to help you understand how they affect your daily life — and how you can take action. When it comes to election coverage, it’s the same story. 

That means, as Detroiters head to the polls (or ballot drop boxes), we won’t have a reporter at campaign events or post an update every time the president tweets about a local figure. That reporting serves a purpose, and we share essential stories from other outlets in the Detour newsletter — but it’s not what we do best, and it’s not what Detour readers say they’re looking for from us. 

Instead, we’ll be producing stories that help readers vote effectively, safely and confidently, involving you in the process to make sure we’re serving your information needs and delivering you community-driven journalism, resources and context that breaks out of the daily news cycle. We’ll break down what’s on your ballot, explain the ins-and-outs of voting from home, track key news from local races and monitor voting issues — from absentee ballot delivery to polling place changes. 

Our coverage will continue to be guided by you. We’ll answer your questions about voting, candidates and ballot proposals, and we will focus on the issues you’ve said matter most to you.

We asked, you answered: What you need to know this election season

Detour’s mission prioritizes outreach and engagement with readers, driven by our Facebook group, newsletters and active members. 

We’ve already been talking to readers about what’s on their mind as they go to vote. Answers in our reader election survey reflect the most pressing issues shaping our lives and city right now, and mirror Detour’s existing focus areas: economic concerns, healthcare and public health during the pandemic, police reform and education, as well as housing, jobs and racism. 

How you can help us cover the election

We want to involve readers in our election coverage, but we also need your help. Sharing your concerns, problems and questions with us and our partners will strengthen our reporting and get you answers — that’s a win-win. Here are a few ways to get in touch. 

Voting problem tipline: Detour is partnering with ProPublica’s Electionland project to track voting issues — like mail ballot delivery problems, changed voting locations, long lines, registration problems, purged voter rolls, broken machines and voter intimidation. If you experience or witness any problems when casting your ballot, let us know — you can sign up ahead of time by texting the word VOTE to 81380, or use the text service when an issue arises. 

  • SMS: Text the word VOTE, VOTA (for Spanish) or 投票 (for Chinese) to 81380 (standard text message rates apply). 
  • WhatsApp: Send the word VOTE, VOTA (for Spanish) or 投票 (for Chinese) to 1-850-909-8683.
  • Facebook Messenger: Go to m.me/electionland
  • Complete this form to share your election experience with us so ProPublica and our partners can investigate. More info on the tipline here.

Ask your questions: You can email us directly (kate@detourdetroiter.com) with your questions about voting and what’s on your ballot. We’ll also be taking questions, sharing resources and discussing the election in the Detour Facebook group — join the conversation here.  

Get local voting info by text: Outlier Media has launched an additional version of their critical needs text service to serve voters. Text DETVOTES to 73224 to access the service in English, VOTADET para Espanol and .للعربية  YALLAVOTE. Get info on absentee ballot drop-off locations, poll worker applications and more. 

Fill out our survey: We still want to know the issues that are on your mind before you vote. Take our voter survey in the chat box below, or view it here. We’ll be listening through election day.

How we’re partnering with other organizations to deepen our coverage 

Obviously, we can’t do it alone. Detour is collaborating with other local and national news organizations to ensure we’re prepared to cover this once-in-a-lifetime election, strengthen our reporting and increase our reach. 

We are a member of ProPublica’s ElectionLand project, which covers problems that prevent eligible voters from casting ballots nationwide. As a local partner in the coalition of newsrooms, we’ll be relying on the nonprofit’s expertise and newsgathering, while covering issues central to the project — rather than covering the race and the results, Electionland’s goal is to document voting impediments such as long lines, harassment at the polls, misinformation about voting, registration purges, changed voting locations, provisional ballot use, voter ID issues, ballot design problems and more.

Detour is part of American Press Institute’s Trusted Elections Network, designed to facilitate understanding about the spread of false information, how to avoid amplifying falsehoods and how to best cover the electoral process. They’re an invaluable resource as we work to inform and educate our readers this election. 

Our staff was selected for the Election SOS Engaged Elections cohort, receiving training on how best to work with our audience on election coverage. They continue to provide trainings and resources. 

We’re collaborating with First Draft to understand local mis- and disinformation trends related to the election to sharpen reporting and dispel misinformation. We’re also working with our longtime partner, Detroit’s Outlier Media, as they help local voters access crucial info through their texting service and track widespread issues.

We also have editorial content partnerships with nonprofit, nonpartisan outlet The Fulcrum, which focuses on efforts to reverse the dysfunctions plaguing American democracy, and Report for America’s project with the Associated Press to provide local newsrooms with essential accountability journalism and state government coverage. 

Detour Detroit’s election coverage 

Key info and dates for voting in Detroit 

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Register to vote: Online registration ended on Oct. 19 — now through Election Day, register in-person with identification at your clerk’s office. Find more info about voter registration here

Vote without an ID: You can vote in person without identification (bring it if you have one) and will have to sign an affidavit. If it’s your first time voting in Michigan, you may need to provide some documentation — more details on that process and your rights here.

Voting by mail: Anyone in Michigan can vote absentee, with no reason needed.

Request your absentee ballot: The state deadline for your clerk to receive your online or mailed absentee ballot request is technically 5 p.m., Oct. 30. However, that almost certainly doesn’t leave enough time for your ballot to be mailed to you. The nonpartisan collaborative MichiganVoting.org recommends requesting your ballot by Sept. 15, now past — do it ASAP if you haven’t. You can also request an absentee ballot in person at your clerk’s office by 4 p.m. Nov. 2 and vote in the same visit. You can track your absentee ballot here. 

Return your absentee ballot: Absentee ballots must be returned by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3. The ACLU of Michigan recommends mailing your absentee ballot by Oct. 20 (now past) to be sure it arrives on time. After that date you can drop it at a dropbox or your clerk’s office. A September ruling that absentee ballots postmarked on or before Nov. 2 must be counted has been overturned. If your ballot isn’t received before 8 p.m. on Nov. 3, it won’t be counted.

Request your absentee ballot earlier if at all possible, or request it in person. Here are Detroit’s drop box locations and satellite voting locations. Find clerk’s office locations and ballot drop boxes in different cities by entering your voter information in the Secretary of State voter portal.

What’s on the ballot: Take a peek at what’s on your ballot.

Volunteer: Apply to be a poll worker.

What else: What info are we missing? Here’s one last reminder to send us an email, start a convo in the Facebook group or fill out the survey to let us know.  

Kate Abbey-Lambertz is the co-founder and editorial director for Detour Media. She leads editorial strategy for the signature Detour Detroit newsletter, The Blend and special projects, while shaping Detour’s membership program, audience development initiatives and design. Kate was previously a national reporter at HuffPost, where she covered equitable cities and urban issues. She launched HuffPost’s Detroit vertical, serving as reporter and editor, and has reported on Detroit for a decade. Follow her on Twitter: @kabbeyl