MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark said players are ready to discuss moving the summer's All-Star game out of Atlanta after the state legislature passed an election reform bill restricting voter access, the Boston Globe reported.
The 91st MLB All-Star game is scheduled for the Atlanta Braves' Truist Park on July 13 and they're planning to have full capacity.
MLBPA considering moving All-Star out of ATL
“Players are very much aware” of the Georgia voting bill, which places restrictions on voting accessibility that will make it particularly difficult for Black voters to reach the polls, said Tony Clark in an interview with the Globe. “As it relates to the All-Star Game, we have not had a conversation with the league on that issue – if there is an opportunity to, we would look forward to having that conversation.”
There's precedent for moving an all-star game based on enacted legislation. The NBA moved its 2017 game out of Charlotte, North Carolina, following laws that limited anti-discrimination protections for the LGBTQ community.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver threatened to move the game if the state didn't change its law. With no action by North Carolina and deadlines looming to move the game, the NBA made the announcement in July 2016.
“While we recognize that the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state, and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2,” the league said in a statement upon the announcement. “… We look forward to re-starting plans for our All-Star festivities in Charlotte for 2019 provided there is an appropriate resolution to this matter.”
The NCAA banned holding championships in the state and companies delayed or canceled events there. After the North Carolina legislature partially repealed the law, the NBA All-Star game returned in 2019 as did other major sporting events.
Dodgers' Dave Roberts says he's considering skipping ASG
Players aren't the only MLB employees with concerns about the Georgia bill.
Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, currently slated to manage the National League in the All-Star Game after winning last year's World Series, told Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times he will consider skipping the game if MLB doesn't move the game:
“If it gets to that point,” Roberts said, “it’ll certainly be a decision I’ll have to make personally.”
“When you’re trying to restrict African American votes — American citizens — that’s alarming to me to hear,” Roberts said.
Roberts is currently one of two African American managers in MLB, alongside Dusty Baker of the Houston Astros.
What is the Georgia election reform bill?
The reform bill signed by Gov. Brian Kemp late Thursday overhauls state election law in an area that experienced record-breaking voter turnout in the 2020 presidential election.
Georgia has been at the center of the voting rights battle for decades and grassroots organizers have worked tirelessly to make it easier for residents to utilize their constitutional right to vote. The Democrats won the presidential election and two U.S. Senate runoffs in 2020, a major shift from a state that used to be a reliable Republican stronghold. Athletes were heavily involved in voting rights and access in the state from the WNBA player campaigning for Raphael Warnock to LeBron James' More Than a Vote initiative. More Than a Vote has already started a new campaign fighting against laws restricting voter access.
The changes in Georgia include, via the Associated Press:
"Among highlights, the bill would require a photo ID in order to vote absentee by mail, after more than 1.3 million Georgia voters used that option during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also would cut the time period people have to request an absentee ballot and limit where ballot drop boxes can be placed and when they can be accessed."
"One of the biggest changes in the bill would give the GOP-controlled legislature more control over election administration, a change that has raised concerns among voting rights groups that it could lead to greater partisan influence.
"The bill would replace the elected secretary of state as the chair of the state election board with a new appointee of the legislature after Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger rebuffed Trump's attempts to overturn Georgia's election results. It would also allow the board to remove and replace county election officials deemed to be underperforming."
The bill would also reduce the timeframe for runoff elections and shrink the amount of early voting for runoffs, per the AP. The senate runoff early voting began in December and ended on Jan. 5. It also prevents outside groups from handing out food or water to people standing in line to vote.
Republicans assert it is to prevent voter fraud. Democrats say the laws disproportionately disenfranchise voters of colors. Advocates say it is voter suppression.
Similar laws are being attempted in Florida, Arizona and Texas.
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