Nine major sports unions join forces to oppose U.S. state voting restrictions

FILE PHOTO: Protest against House Bill 531 in Atlanta
FILE PHOTO: Protesters gather outside of the Georgia State Capitol to protest HB 531, which would place tougher restrictions on voting in Georgia, in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. March 4, 2021. REUTERS/Dustin Chambers/File Photo/File Photo/File Photo

May 5, 2021

(Reuters) – Nine major U.S. sports unions joined together on Monday to declare their opposition to state legislative efforts restricting the right to vote.

A number of voting rights groups say the restrictions passed by Georgia, and being weighed in Texas and Arizona among other states, target Black people and other racial minorities.

The statement was co-signed by the National Basketball Players Association, the Basketball Players Union, 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.

The Republican-backed Georgia law strengthened identification requirements for absentee ballots, shortened early voting periods for runoffs and made it a misdemeanor for members of the public to offer food and water to voters waiting in line.

The sports unions said they were joining hundreds of individuals and corporations in taking a ‘Stand for Democracy’.

“As Americans, we know that in our democracy we should not expect to agree on everything,” the statement read https://nbpa.com/news/professional-sports-unions-come-together-to-oppose-new-voting-restrictions.

“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.

“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.”

The other groups are the National Women’s Hockey League Players’ Association, National Women’s Soccer League Players Association, Professional Women’s Hockey League Players Association, and Women’s National Basketball Players Association.

The Major League Baseball Players Association was not among the co-signatories but the sport’s governing body last month took a stand against new voting restrictions in Georgia by relocating its 2021 All-Star Game out of Atlanta.

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Howard Goller)