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Government & Politics in the U.S.

U.S. Election Day is on November 3, 2020. This year, U.S. voters will cast their ballots for President & Vice President of the U.S. and elect 469 members of Congress and thousands of other public officials across the country, including state governors, judges, school boards, university trustees, and local county leaders. 

While international students and scholars, like other non-U.S. citizens, cannot vote in U.S. elections, you can learn, experience, explore, and participate in other ways.

Understanding the U.S. Elections in 2020


U.S. Federal Election Commission (FEC) Information for Foreign Nationals

Before getting involved in any U.S. election-related activities, learn about the rules and laws governing foreign nationals’ participation in U.S. elections including: donating to campaigns, distributing election-related communications, and allowable volunteer activities. Persons who knowingly and willfully engage in prohibited activities may be subject to an FEC enforcement action, criminal prosecution, or both.

U.S. Library of Congress: The Presidential Election Process

Who can be president? How are candidates nominated? What is the electoral college? Learn about the requirements for the President of the U.S., political parties, political primaries, persuading voters, how the electoral collage works in U.S. presidential elections, how the right to vote was first established, how it has expanded and how it is protected. 


MSUvote is a non-partisan campus committee whose mission it is to increase the number of registered U.S. student voters, to inform and educate students on candidates and issues, and to bolster student participation on Election Day. Learn about the candidates, the issues, and upcoming events.

Campus Election Engagement Project: Candidate, Issue, and Primary Guides

Working to help America’s 20 million college and university students vote, Campus Election Engagement Project (CEEP) assists administrators, faculty, staff and student leaders to engage students in federal, state and local elections. 

To help people find out more about the candidates and the issues, CEEP creates nonpartisan, state-specific guides after researching candidates' voting records and what candidates say to different groups, and what they say on their websites. The CEEP guides are an antidote to political spin. 

Go to Campus Election Engagement Project: Candidate, Issue, and Primary Guides, scroll down to the map of the U.S. and click on Michigan to learn more about the elections in our state and check out a few of the guides:

The Issues: Nonpartisan Guide to Key Votes: United States Congress 2017-2020

The Supreme Court: Nonpartisan Guide to the U.S. Supreme Court and the 2020 Election

The Presidential Candidates: Nonpartisan Guide to the U.S. Presidential Candidates and Key Issues

Michigan U.S. Senators: Nonpartisan Guide to the Michigan U.S. Senator Candidates

University of Utah, Hinckley Institute of Politics

The University of Utah hosted the Vice-Presidential Debates on October 7, 2020. The Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah hosted and recorded discussions to help people understand the U.S. Elections.

YouTube Video: The Presidency

YouTube Video: The Vice-Presidency 

MSU Today Articles 

Need an expert on a 2020 election issue?

Election 2020 and the power of the Electoral College

Ask the Expert: Trump, COVID and the 25th Amendment

Ask the Expert: What is redistricting, and how does it affect political power?

Faculty voice: The legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Faculty voice: How slavery in the US impacts race relations today

Explore Events

March Forward: A Live Virtual Event featuring Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell

Wednesday, October 21, 2020
6:30 - 7:30 PM Eastern Daylight Time/UTC -4 (Timezone Converter)

Attend via Zoom or via Facebook Live.

One Community, a partnership between the City of East Lansing and Michigan State University, presents a live virtual event featuring special guests Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, who worked closely with U.S. Congressman John Lewis on the MARCH trilogy. MARCH is an autobiographical black and white graphic novel trilogy about the Civil Rights Movement, told through the perspective of Civil Rights leader and U.S. Congressman John Lewis. Also featuring a presentation on the MSU Libraries' Special Collections comic art collection.There will be opportunities to submit questions during the event, or you can submit your questions ahead of time by sending an email.

RGB Online Film Screening

Thursday, October 22, 2020
7:00 - 9:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time/UTC -4 (Timezone Converter)

Register/Sign-Up to Watch the Film

Cosponsored by the MSU Michael and Elaine Serling Institute for Jewish Studies and Modern Israel and the MSU Center for Gender in Global Context. Opening remarks by Kirsten Fermaglich, Professor of History and Jewish Studies. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg developed a lengthy legal legacy while becoming an unexpected pop culture icon. But the unique personal journey of her rise to the nation's highest court has been largely unknown, even to some of her biggest fans – until now. The film RBG explores Ginsburg's life and career. From Betsy West and Julie Cohen, and co-produced by Storyville Films and CNN Films. Watch the official film trailer

Outsiders at Home: Politics of American Islamophobia

Thursday, October 29, 20207:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time/UTC -4 (Timezone Converter)

Virtual Event on Zoom

Register/Sign-Up to participate

MSU Muslim Studies Program is hosting a discussion on Dr. Nazita Lajevardi's new book "Outsiders at Home: Politics of American Islamophobia." This event is cosponsored by the Department of Political Science and James Madison College. This will be a virtual Zoom event.

The Day After: Moving Forward Post Election

Wed, November 4, 2020
3:00 PM Eastern Standard Time/UTC -5 (Timezone Converter
Virtual Event on Zoom

Register/sign-up before Oct. 30

The first part of the program will focus on a panel of scholars from a variety of disciplines and focus areas. Panelists will help attendees better understand the outcome of the election and provide strategies to help the MSU community move forward. After the panel discussion, we will provide space for attendees to participate in a dialogue based on their individual and shared experiences.

Jewish Justices of the Supreme Court

Tuesday, November 10, 2020
7:00 PM Eastern Standard Time/UTC -5 (Timezone Converter)
Virtual Event on Zoom

Learn more about this event at the MSU Michael and Elaine Serling Institute for Jewish Studies and Modern Israel

Dr. David Dalin will discuss his book Jewish Justices of the Supreme Court, from Brandeis to Kagan, which was selected as a finalist for the 2017 National Jewish Book Award. The talk examines the lives, legal careers, and Jewish legacies of the eight Jews who have served or who currently serve as justices of the U.S. Supreme Court: Louis D. Brandeis, Benjamin Cardozo, Felix Frankfurter, Arthur Goldberg, Abe Fortas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, and Elena Kagan. Dr. David Dalin, who is a Senior Research Fellow at Brandeis University, is the author, co-author, or editor of twelve books, including Religion and State in the American Jewish Experience (co-authored with Jonathan D. Sarna) and The Presidents of the United States and the Jews.

Women's Power Book Discussion with Melissa Klapper and with Lori Harrison-Ka

Fri, November 13, 2020
3:00 - 5:00 PM
Virtual Event on Zoom

Register/Sign-Up or email jewishst(at) to get the Zoom link. 

Lori Harrison-Kahan will discuss her recent book The Superwoman and Other Writings, an edited collection of journalism and fiction by Miriam Michelson. In honor of the centennial of the 19th Amendment, Lori has been a featured speaker at the Newseum, the Library of Congress, and other venues.

One of the earliest women journalists in San Francisco in the 1890s, Miriam Michelson went on to become a suffrage activist and a bestselling author of feminist fiction like “The Superwoman,” a novella that inspired the “Wonder Woman” comics.

Harrison-Kahan’s talk will address Michelson’s upbringing as the daughter of Jewish immigrants in Virginia City, Nevada; her influence on politics in the Progressive Era; and her relevance to contemporary movements like #MeToo.

Look For More Events and Programs

Look for events and programs hosted by MSU departments, colleges, and student organizations that explore U.S. politics, elections, or social issues. Here are a few MSU departments and colleges to keep an eye on:

Play: Election Madness 2020 Game

This game was developed by Eric Gonzalez Juenke, an Associate Professor of Political Science at Michigan State University. He created this game in order to provide a fun way to learn about elections in the United States. 

The game title is borrowed from "March Madness," the time of year (usually mid-March through the beginning of April) when the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men's and women's college basketball tournaments are held and fans try to guess which teams will move forward in the tournaments, and which teams will ultimately win.

This game gives you an opportunity to try to predict the outcomes of some of the election races that will be decided on Tuesday, November 3, 2020 (national election day). 

This game will teach you about:

  • how experts think and talk about elections in the United States;
  • how elections in different states are tied to one another and how they are independent of one another;
  • how to understand and evaluate media coverage of the elections;
  • candidates who are not covered widely in the news;
  • how the U.S. system of government comes together geographically, and how different places produce different candidates and officeholders;
  • how all of these different people will come together to serve in the U.S. congress in the coming years;
  • why political scientists love elections; and,
  • what it’s like to study the U.S. electoral system. 

MSU Media Space Video: How to Play Election Madness 2020

YouTube: How to Play Election Madness 2020

Play the Game: Play Election Madness 2020

Listening and Discussion Sessions

Pre-Election Listening Space

Tuesday, October 27
1:00 - 2:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time/UTC -4 (Timezone Converter)
Virtual on Zoom


The purpose of this space will be to provide students time to process and share their feelings about the election. This is not a space for debate or to persuade students’ voting choices (attendees must be an MSU student).

Facilitated by Jeff Baker, MA, LLP and Mike Evitts, MS.

Contact Jeff Baker, MA, LLP at bakerj76(at) with any questions.

The Day After: Moving Forward Post Election

Wednesday, November 4, 2020
3:00 PM Eastern Standard Time/UTC -5 (Timezone Converter
Virtual on Zoom

Register/sign-up before Oct. 30

The first part of the program will focus on a panel of scholars from a variety of disciplines and focus areas. Panelists will help attendees better understand the outcome of the election and provide strategies to help the MSU community move forward. After the panel discussion, we will provide space for attendees to participate in a dialogue based on their individual and shared experiences.

Post-Election Listening Space

Wednesday, November 4, 2020
12:00 PM (Noon) Eastern Standard Time/UTC -5 (Timezone Converter)
Virtual on Zoom


This Listening Space hosted by MSU CAPS is meant to serve students who need a safe place to talk and listen post-election.  Facilitated by Dr. Mark Patishnock, Dr. Lee Wang, and Dan Murphy, MA.

Contact Dan Murphy at murph761(at) with any questions

Allyship in 2020 Listening Space

Thursday  October 22, 2020
3:00 - 4:00 PM 

Thursday October 29, 2020
1:00 - 2:00 PM

These discussions are for MSU students, to provide support and focus during a time when many students might be just learning about their racial identity, unsure of where they want to go from here, working through insecurity related to privilege, or struggling to conceive of building a positive identity that is also anti-racist, pro-Black, pro-Indigenous, pro-POC, etc. Facilitated by Dr. Gail Anderson and Angela Partridge, BSN RN. 

Contact Dr. Gail Anderson at ande1951(at) to register or with any questions.

Virtual Listening Space for International Students

Every Friday, October 2 through November 20, 2020
10:00 - 11:00 AM (Timezone Converter)
Virtual on Zoom


This is a listening space for international students, especially for those who are unable to return to Michigan this Fall semester. A space with a goal to listen, to connect, and to support each other. Facilitated by Zen Zhong, M.Phil.Ed, LLPC. Contact facilitator for questions, Zen Zhong, M.Phil.Ed, LLPC at zhongz(at)


Get Support

Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives

Events, dialogues, training, and links to other supportive departments at MSU. 

At Michigan State University, we believe our differences are assets. We foster a community that respects and values a broad range of backgrounds, viewpoints, and experiences and encourages and creates opportunities so all Spartans can reach their full potential educationally and professionally.

The nation's pioneer land-grant university, MSU was founded as a bold experiment that democratized higher education, making a quality education accessible. Today, advancing an inclusive campus remains a core value.

The Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives leads and supports efforts to advance a diverse and inclusive campus community, consistent with MSU's core values.

Office of Cultural and Academic Transitions

The Office of Cultural and Academic Transitions (OCAT) constructs supportive cultural, social and educational communities that actively involve students in learning.  OCAT supports individual students in their navigation of cross-cultural encounters, and in their own understanding, exploration and development of cultural identity. Student-to-student interaction is the key to benefiting from diversity, and OCAT strives to bring together individuals as well as groups of students from diverse racial, ethnic, international, and domestic backgrounds for meaningful interactions. In part, OCAT accomplishes this mission by building critical alliances with peoples, programs, and ideas throughout the university. Additionally, OCAT helps students to better understand themselves and others through cultural, social, and academic activities.

The Office of Cultural & Academic Transitions is a department within MSU’s Division of Student Affairs and Services.

Office for Civil Rights and Title IX Education and Compliance

The mission of our office is to educate all campus community members regarding how to prevent, identify, and report discrimination, harassment, and gender-based violence; to monitor complaints of discrimination, harassment, and gender-based violence, conduct a fair and equitable investigation of each complaint, and use information from monitoring and investigations to inform prevention education; to connect those affected by discrimination, harassment, and gender-based violence with campus and community resources.

All individuals are encouraged to promptly report possible violations of MSU’s Anti-Discrimination Policy and Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct and Title IX Policy. In addition, all individuals are encouraged to report conduct that may also violate criminal law to both MSU Police and to local law enforcement. Learn more about how to file a report

Office of the University Ombudsperson

Confidential. Informal. Independent. Neutral.

Whether you are a student, faculty member, or staff, the Office of the University Ombudsperson offers a confidential place to discuss both academic and nonacademic concerns including, administrative issues, workplace issues, or any concern that may relate to Michigan State University students, scholars, faculty or staff.

We also interpret and explain university policies and procedures.

Here, you can speak freely because the Office of the University Ombudsperson offers an environment where you can talk with a confidential and impartial resource about a complaint, conflict or problem. We are not part of any formal University process. We do not take sides in disputes.

We operate independently of the University.

Contact us at any point in your academic journey and together we will define the problem, explore options, outline strategies, review policies, inform you about applicable resources, and manage expectations while upholding the values of respect, integrity, diversity and freedom from bias or harassment.

MSU Counseling and Psychiatric Services

We are here to help. Our team is committed to providing and connecting students to a wide array of services and resources to address your concerns. These may include short-term individual counseling, group counseling, medication, or referrals to other services.   

To get started, you can access a screening for new counseling and psychiatric services through a CAPS-Phone-Request on our main page. Phone requests will result in a scheduled telemental health consultation screening to discuss your needs and assist with connecting you with available resources. 

Things you can do now, to start feeling better:

Virtual Care Kit

Psych Hub Mental Health Videos

CAPS Connect 

CAPS List of Things You Can Do Now