Sports arenas

Professional sports arenas and stadiums turn into voting “super centers” for the November elections

FILE – General view of Dodger Stadium during its massive $ 100 million exterior pavilion renovation on February 12, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.

Professional sports stadiums and arenas have typically been closed to the public amid the coronavirus pandemic, but now major political groups are scrambling to turn some arenas into “super voting centers,” serving as primary voting sites during the event. November elections.

A group of professional sports franchises have come together and offer their iconic sites to voters, “reducing queues, waiting times and other potential obstacles” to vote in the 2020 election.

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The “Election Super Center Project” is a non-partisan initiative formed by the National Vote at Home Institute and Silver Linings Group, two voting rights groups. In an Aug. 14 press release, the project detailed its work with the National Basketball Association, the National Football League and the National Hockey League to ensure that team stadiums and arenas allow “convenient access for voters.” .

The participating teams so far are: Los Angeles Clippers, Washington Wizards, Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers, New Jersey Devils, Dallas Mavericks, Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Capitals.

According to the statement, the sites will follow CDC guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19 during social distance voting.

“It’s important to have additional venues large enough to ensure sufficient social distancing with many health and safety protocols in place during this unprecedented time,” said Doc Rivers, head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers.

“These additional venues ensure that people can exercise their right to vote,” Rivers said. We will continue to work hard off the pitch to secure as many large arenas and venues as possible. “

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Other notable figures in the professional sports world have expressed the need for accessible voting sites in the November election, as the continued spread of the novel coronavirus can pose a risk to voters who vote in person.

Along with other black athletes and artists, basketball legend LeBron James formed a voting rights group last spring to push for mega-voting sites to allow in-person voting amid the pandemic.

Called “More Than a Vote,” James’ nonprofit is a dedicated coalition of black athletes and artists who work together to educate, energize and protect young communities of color by fighting systemic suppression. voters.

The group shared their plans with The Associated Press in July after the Detroit Pistons became the second NBA franchise to announce plans to use their arena to vote later this year. In Georgia, Fulton County election officials this week approved the Atlanta Hawks’ proposal to use the State Farm Arena as a voting site. Plans call for the arena to serve as a county-wide advance polling site before election day.

James’ organization is also working with the Los Angeles Dodgers to transform the franchise’s Dodger Stadium into a constituency in November.

“We’re all in the same boat,” James said in a statement. “This is exactly why we created More Than a Vote. Many of us are now working together and here for every team that wants to follow the lead of the Dodgers and make their stadium a safer place to vote.

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The NFL Carolina Panthers and NBA Charlotte Hornets sites will also be used as the first in-person voting sites this fall in North Carolina.

The Mecklenburg County Board of Elections accepted a list of 33 early voting sites that include Bank of America Stadium and the Spectrum Center, The Charlotte Observer reported in July.

Election officials in Mecklenburg, who approved the early voting plan at the end of last month, expect extensive use of early voting options by county residents, whether for postal ballots or in person, before polling day on November 3. multiple entrances are considered desirable to avoid crowds. Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte is also on the list of approved sites. The details of the voting site have yet to be worked out.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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