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Denver Post

Players Unions Take on Voting Rights

Nine unions speak out against state bills that limit voting in communities of color

Brian Young's picture
May 03, 2021

Following the 2020 election, many Republican states decided that the way to ensure that they stay in power was to make changes to the voting system. Georgia received the most attention for this by passing a new law that limited early voting, increased requirements for getting a mail-in ballot, and made it illegal to pass out water or food to people waiting in line to vote. The law was clearly aimed at preventing BIPOC communities from voting.

Georgia received a lot of negative attention for this new law and many major companies in the state like Coca-Cola and Delta issued statements against it. Major League Baseball also pulled the All-Star game from Atlanta following pressure from the Players Association.

Now nine sports unions have signed a letter declaring their opposition to other states that are pushing similar laws, like Texas and Arizona. The statement was co-signed by the National Basketball Players Association, the Basketball Players Union (which represents NBA G League players), Major League Soccer Players Association, National Football League Players Association, and the United States Women’s National Team Players Association along with players’ bodies representing elite-level women’s ice hockey, soccer, and basketball.

In their announcement, the unions say that they “Stand for Democracy.”

“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.”

Both the NBPA and the NFLPA’s members have become more politically active and vocal over the past few years, especially around the Black Lives Matter movement. During the 2020 election, the NBPA launched The Pledge campaign to encourage people to take the pledge to vote and to make sure that their fans were registered to vote. The campaign also helped fans get access to absentee ballots. LeBron James, a former Vice President of the NBPA, even launched a voter-rights organization, More Than a Vote, which has partnered with the NBPA, the National Basketball Social Justice Coalition, and the Georgia NAACP to combat recent measures to roll back voting access.

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