9 U.S. sports unions align against GOP-led voting restrictions

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The National Basketball Players Association released a statement on Monday opposing voting restrictions enacted or being debated in state legislatures across the country. 

The statement titled "Stand for Democracy" was co-signed by unions from eight other U.S. sports leagues. It calls for "every eligible voter" to have "an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot."

“We Stand for Democracy.

A Government of the people, by the people.

A beautifully American ideal, but a reality denied to many for much of this nation’s history.

As Americans, we know that in our democracy we should not expect to agree on everything.

However, regardless of our political affiliations, we believe the very foundation of our electoral process rests upon the ability of each of us to cast our ballots for the candidates of our choice.

For American democracy to work for any of us, we must ensure the right to vote for all of us.

We should all feel a responsibility to defend the right to vote and to oppose any discriminatory legislation or measures that restrict or prevent any eligible voter from having an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot.

Voting is the lifeblood of our democracy and we call upon all Americans to join us in taking a nonpartisan stand for this most basic and fundamental right of all Americans.”

Not every major sports union signed on

The National Football League Players Association, Women’s National Basketball Players Association, Major League Soccer Players Association, National Women’s Hockey League Players Association, National Women’s Soccer League Players Association, Professional Women’s Hockey League Players Association, United States Women’s National Team Players Association and Basketball Players Union co-signed the statement alongside the NBPA.

The Major League Baseball Players Association, the National Hockey League Players Association and the U.S. National Soccer Team Players Association did not sign the statement. 

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 09: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers wears a VOTE shirt during warm-up prior to the start of the game against the Miami Heat in Game Five of the 2020 NBA Finals at AdventHealth Arena at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on October 9, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
LeBron James joined prominent athletes across sports in promoting voting last fall. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

What are the unions standing against?

The statement arrives as states with Republican-led legislatures have proposed voting restrictions similar to the measures passed in Georgia in the aftermath of the 2020 elections. The Georgia law passed in March limits the number of drop boxes across the state, increases voter ID requirements and gives state-level officials in Republican-controlled Georgia power over county election boards that oversee ballot counts.

The law also makes it illegal for non-poll workers to provide food and water for people waiting in line to vote. Georgia made news in recent elections elections for hours-long voting lines in minority neighborhoods that didn't reflect what was seen in majority white neighborhoods. 

Florida and Michigan have since passed similar voting restrictions while Texas and Arizona are among states debating doing the same. 

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