Ann Arbor, Michigan
Thursday, November 13, 2008
ELECTION DAY PROCEDURE
More than half of Crisler Arena's seats were empty during last night's men's basketball game against Northeastern, which Michigan won 76-56. The Athletic Department
has used creative tactics this year to sell more seasonticket packages to students, including giving tickets away for free. For coverage of the game, see Sports, Page 5A.
REBUILDING A FAN BASE
face obstacles to
casting ballots, bill
By LINDY STEVENS
With more and more states
streamlining their election pro-
cesses by allowing voters to cast
ballots early, State Sen. Liz Brat-
er (D-Ann Arbor) has sponsored
a bill that would allow all regis-
tered state voters to cast ballots
prior to Election Day, loosen
current state absentee voting
laws and ease voter registration
Brater said the legislation
would simplify the voting pro-
cess, increase voter turnout and
reduce the wait times that voters
faced at the polls on Nov. 4. At
Mary Markley Hall on campus,
young voters waited almost three
hours to vote on Election Day.
Current state voting laws, she
said, restrict Michigan voters
from participating in the demo-
"We are putting Michigan citi-
zens at a disadvantage when it
in national elections, compared to
other states," Brater said.
If the proposed reforms are
enacted, voters could cast ballots
at their city clerk's office in the
several days prior to an election
and would be allowed to regis-
ter and vote in their precinct on
the same day. Existing state law
requiresvoters to beregistered 30
days prior to an election.
The bill would also lift restric-
tions on absentee voting and allow
any voter to cast an absentee bal-
lot. Currently, voters must be over
60 years old, incarcerated, have
religious obligations, plan to be
out of their precinct on Election
Day or require special assistance
casting their ballot because of a
disability to qualify for absentee
Brater said students should
be able to cast an absentee ballot
without an excuse.
"Students are very busy, and
they have lots of things to do.
They have tests to take, andstudy-
ing, and classes to go to, and their
time is valuable," Brater said. "It
is very important for them to have
access to these absentee ballots
to make sure that their vote is
Twenty-eight states currently
allow the "no-excuse" absentee
voting model that Brater's bill
Brater said she has received
support frommembers of the state
House on the issue, but that the
bill hasn't been strongly backed
by members of the Senate. Brater
said she has pushed for such a bill
since taking office as a state rep-
resentative in 1994, but her efforts
See VOTING, Page 3A
With ticket sales low
officials try to restore
By BENJAMIN S. CHASE
It's been a decade now since the
University of Michigan basketball
team last went to the NCAA tour-
nament, and the Athletic Depart-
ment faces a conundrum: how do
you promote a team that hasn't
achieved significant success since
its fans were in grade school?
Faced with dwindling student
ticket sales and dwindling atten-
dance at the aging Crisler Arena,
the Athletic Department has offered
promotional student ticket pack-
ages at a discounted price, given free
admissionto mostgamesfor anystu-
dent with an MCard and revamped
the arena's facilities and atmosphere
in an effort to draw students in.
And yet, it has sold 480 student
season tickets this season, down
from about 600 last year. The regu-
lar season's first two games, against
Michigan Tech and Northeastern,
drew just over 6,000 people each,
leaving more than half of Crisler
Arena's 13,751 seats empty.
The Athletic Department hasn't
always had this challenge.
Fifteen years ago, fans filled
Crisler Arena to watch the Michi-
gan basketball team's Fab Five play.
Led by Chris Webber, the team
went to the Final Four of the 1992
and 1993 NCAA Tournaments. The
year after their second Final Four
appearance, the Athletic Depart-
ment received 4,100 applications
for 3,100 student season tickets.
And then an investigation
revealed that team booster Ed Mar-
tin had given money to four Michi-
gan players, including Webber. The
team lost scholarship and the abil-
ity to play in the NCAA Tourna-
ment. The two Final Four banners
from the Fab Five era came down
from Crisler Arena's rafters.
Ever since, enthusiasm for the
dwindled. Former coach Tommy
Amaker couldn't lead Michigan to
an NCAA Tournament in six years.
The team went 10-22 last season
under new coach John Beilein.
This season, the Athletic Depart-
ment is banking on an improved
basketball team. Michigan has won
its first three games this season,
including an exhibition victory
over Saginaw Valley State and reg-
ular-season wins against Michigan
Tech and Northeastern.
Marty Bodnar, associate athletic
director of ticketing and market-
ing, said the Athletic Department
expects a turnaround in support if
See TICKETS, Page 3A
TH E NEW WHITE HOUSE
SMILE, BRIAN WILSON
Team to scan Mars data Panel: Obama has
for conditions for life
work cut out for him
NASA Mars Lander
By ELAINE LAFAY
Though signals from NASA's
Phoenix Mars Lander stopped on
Monday because of dust storms
and limited sunlight, University
researchers who contributed to
the mission are continuing their
search for conditions favorable to
life on the Red Planet by analyzing
the data sent back by the lander.
Launched by National Aeronau-
tics Space Administration on Aug.
4, 2007, the Phoenix lander reached
the northern region of Mars in May
and has studied the planet's water
history, climate and the different
layers of itssurface.
Rackham student Manish Mehta
was one of the University research-
ers who contributed to the lander's
mission to Mars. Prior to the launch
date, Mehta spent three years work-
ing on the mission - five minutes of
the mission, to be precise.
"It was the most important five
minutes of the mission," he said.
Mehta's group, led by Nilton
Renno, a professor in the Atmo-
spheric, Oceanic and Space Sci-
ences Department, worked on the
spacecraft's landing on the planet's
surface. The landing was considered
especially important because NASA
had previously lost contact with a
previous rover because of complica-
See ROVER, Page 3A
legacy will pose
obstacles, profs say
By ELIN BERGMAN
Between the financial crisis
and the problems left behind by
his predecessor, President-elect
Barack Obama has his work cut
out for him, four Ford School of
Public Policy professors said dur-
ing a panel discussion yesterday.
The professors - Susan Waltz,
Brian Jacob, Sheldon Danziger
and Matthew Davis - spoke for
90 minutes yesterday before an
almost-full Annenberg Audito-
rium, discussing whatpolicy chal-
lenges Obama will face at the start
of his presidential term. Susan
Collins, dean of the School of Pub-
lic Policy, moderated the panel.
Danziger, director of the Ford
School's National Poverty Center,
said Obama's strategy to tackle
poverty was more promisingthan
that of the Bush administration,
which ignored "those at the bot-
tom of the income distribution."
Danziger added, though, that
Obama's goals might be hard to
realize because "the global eco-
nomic crisis is so severe"
Obama's proposed measures
for reform include tax credits
for low-income households, an
increase tothenational minimum
wage and transition programs for
Danziger said Obama's initia-
tives echo many of former Presi-
dent Bill Clinton's policies in
1992. Then, like now, the econo-
my and health care were among
the nation's biggest concerns.
Davis said Obama's health care
plan, which would offer univer-
sal coverage, could work, but
might be unpopular. Creating a
big Medicare program, he said,
is "not appealing to the majority
of the American people." Health
care reform would have to be
done in several steps, he said.
Jacob, an expert on educa-
tion policy, said "federal policies
are inherently hard to pursue for
education." He said he disagreed
slightly with Obama's plan to
make education more accessible,
which involves giving tax cred-
its for students who do a certain
amount of community service.
Jacob suggested direct loans
might be a more effective way to
reach this goal.
Students in attendance said
See OBAMA, Page 3A
Brian Wilson, the once-reclusive lead singer and songwriter of the Beach Boys,
signed copies of his latest solo album, "That Old Lucky Sun," at the Borders
bookstore on State Street yesterday afternoon.
A photo from the Phoenix Mars Lander, which landed on the surface of Mars in May.
University researchers helped design the mission and now are analyzing the data.
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