First, NBA players walked off the courts in solidarity with Jacob Blake and racial justice. WNBA players did too, and a ripple effect reverberated across the sports world with baseball, soccer, and tennis games also getting postponed.
Now, as part of an agreement with the players’ union to resume the NBA playoffs on Saturday, all NBA arenas under the league’s ownership will be available to convert into voting locations for the 2020 general election. This temporary repurposing will allow for safe, spaced-out in-person voting during the pandemic, according to a joint statement from the NBA and its players’ union.
Wow, this is big.
NBA and NBPA will work to turn league arenas into large, socially distanced polling places — what sound like a tested concept called “vote centers” — throughout the country.
There’s evidence vote centers help increase turnout including with unlikely voters. https://t.co/V65LxAd8mb
— Jacob Soboroff (@jacobsoboroff) August 28, 2020
If a deadline to turn a stadium into a voting location in a certain area has passed, the statement says, “team governors will work with local election officials to find another election-related use for the facility,” like voter registration.
This isn’t the first time the NBA has stepped up to help Americans vote during the pandemic. Back in July, three NBA teams (the Atlanta Hawks, the Detroit Pistons, and the Milwaukee Bucks) all said they’d offer their arenas as voting locations, NPR reported. Over one-third of the NBA’s teams are in states that could determine who becomes president in November, NPR noted.