Carnegie Mellon University

October 29, 2020

Dear Members of the CMU Community:

Next Tuesday, tens of millions of Americans will exercise their right to vote, and millions have already voted. No matter your political beliefs or affiliations, exercising this right is one of the most meaningful ways you can help shape the future of our shared democracy. We write today to update you on a number of ways everyone in our Tartan community can get involved on Election Day.

Notice of Voting Location on Campus

As in previous elections, CMU will support the democratic process by hosting a polling place at Wiegand Gym in the Cohon University Center. This means that local voters from a range of political backgrounds, who have been assigned CMU as their designated polling location, will cast their votes on campus. We expect staff and volunteers from different campaigns to be present on campus.

On Election Day, Allegheny County has jurisdiction over the polling site, and it will be governed by their rules and regulations. We draw particular attention to the rules regarding signage on Election Day, which state that signs and all other electioneering material must be located at least 10 feet away from the entrance to the room where voting occurs. Supporters from various campaigns will be allowed to bring signs and place them on campus outside the 10-foot radius to the entrance. We encourage everyone to comply with these rules. For more information about local, in-person voting and to determine your designated polling location, please visit the Allegheny County website.

The polling place will be following recommended guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including:

  • Poll workers will be provided masks, gloves, face shields and hand sanitizer.
  • There will be plexi-glass at the sign-in tables.
  • There will be cleaning materials at the polling place, tape to mark off 6’ distances for voters waiting in line and extra staff on hand to help enforce the provisions.
  • In compliance with the state order, voters will be asked to wear a face covering. Those who arrive without a face covering will be offered one.

The polling station’s hours of operation are 7 a.m. - 8 p.m., and anyone in line at 8 p.m. will be allowed to vote. First time voters are required to show some form of ID, but it does not need to be a photo ID. Here are acceptable forms of ID voters can take, which include student ID cards. To learn more about voting, candidate information and information on ballot initiatives, this website is also a helpful resource.

Campus Resources and Events

The SLICE webpage will continue to serve as a centralized resource for election-related events and programs being offered across campus including a number of election engagement resources for the classroom or as part of coursework.

The Eberly Center has also put together resources and tips for how to handle difficult moments in the classroom with respect and sensitivity. These strategies are designed to help faculty and instructors when challenging dialogues emerge in learning environments, as well as provide best practices to facilitate more inclusive, nonpartisan discussions. Additionally, they are hosting an event tomorrow, Friday, October 30, titled Teaching in Tumultuous Times. The session will examine the impact of crisis, tragedy or social unrest and how instructors can best support their students through challenging times.

We recognize that elections can create anxiety and stress. CMU’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS) provides a safe, confidential environment for students to express themselves and garner support. CaPS is one of many support resources on campus and in the community available to help CMU students with a range of struggles. Faculty and staff have access to several resources as well, including the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Here is a list of other resources.

As we navigate these unique times and our desire to participate in this important democratic process, we remind you of the commitments prescribed in A Tartan’s Responsibility to mitigate the spread of COVID including limitations on public gatherings. The CMU community welcomes civic engagement on campus, and we are deeply committed to supporting the right of community members to exercise their freedom of expression through peaceful discourse while keeping health and well-being top of mind. 

For those who are eligible to vote in our democratic process, we strongly encourage you to get involved, educate yourself on the candidates and issues, and most importantly, go vote. For those who are not eligible to vote, we welcome your voices in our collective conversation. By sharing your perspectives and engaging in civil discourse, you help widen our societal narrative.

The past several months have tested us all in countless ways. It has been heartening to see the strength, resilience and continued resolve of our community through it all. As we look ahead to the election and beyond, we will remain focused on how we can continue to positively impact our nation’s future through our education, research and service.


Jim Garrett, Provost
Gina Casalegno, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students