Last month, LeBron James headlined a group of star athletes in establishing an organization to help African American’s vote in upcoming elections. The group named “More Than a Vote,” has now announced a strategy to go along with their name; planning to use sports stadiums as polling locations.
James and company are joining a movement initiated by the Detroit Pistons joined the Atlanta Hawks as the first two NBA franchise’s to offer up their stadiums as voting sites. The partnership is a “blueprint for other teams and leagues seeking to advance our common goal of protecting access to the vote for all,” said Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.
In Atlanta plans have been approved for State Farm arena to serve as a voting location for all of Fulton County; providing the opportunity to vote early until Election Day.
The Milwaukee Bucks have also demonstrated their own commitment to the movement.
“We’re looking forward to working with the City of Milwaukee, in any capacity that we can, to ensure people can safely exercise their right to vote!” wrote team Senior Vice President Alex Lasry on Twitter.
Where it Started
The franchises’ themselves are following in the footsteps of June 23 primary elections in Kentucky; where officials decided to use large venues in order to enforce social distancing protocols while still allowing everyone to vote.
In what will surely be a hotly contested election season, headlined by the battle between Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden; these voting centers could prove vital in granting access to isolated or alienated voters.
“We just want to continue to do what we can to make sure that people can safely exercise their right to vote,” said Lasry in an interview with The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“If that means that we serve as a voter registration place, great. If it means that we can be a polling place, great. We want the city to know, and the people of Milwaukee to know, that we’re here to assist and be a resource in any way we can.”
COVID-19 restrictions wreaked havoc on the most recent elections in Milwaukee; with worker shortages cutting the available voting sites from 180 to a mere five. As a result voting instantly became a much more difficult, time consuming and even dangerous task; with long lines and increased risk of COVID exposure.
Atlanta Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce, along with Benson and Dave Fizdale of the New York Knicks; will reportedly counsel teams on how to execute safe and effective protocols.
From the NFL, executive Scott Pioli gave a presentation to the National Association of Secretaries of State; suggesting his own plan for the use of professional and college football venues.