Major professional sports unions in the U.S. are taking a stand against restrictive voting rights bills proposed in several states, including Georgia, where a controversial bill passed in March.
The Basketball Players Union, Major League Soccer Players Association, National Football League Players Association and United States Women’s National Team Players Association are among the nine unions that signed a letter Monday, condemning legislation “that if passed, could make it harder for ordinary citizens to cast their ballots in future election seasons.”
The unions said they oppose states’ legislative efforts “aimed at restricting the right to vote,” and that they “join the hundreds of individuals, foundations and corporations in taking a ‘Stand for Democracy.'”
Similarly, some executives at Georgia-headquartered companies like Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines issued public statements opposing the state’s voting rights bill last month.
Major League Baseball also made a statement against the Georgia bill, pulling its Midsummer Classic from Atlanta. The league moved the All-Star game to Coors Field in Denver over objections to the sweeping changes to the state’s voting laws.
JPMorgan Chase, ViacomCBS, Citi and Microsoft also joined opposition the law which, among other things, requires a photo ID in order to vote absentee by mail. The law also limits the time period allotted to request an absentee ballot and where ballot drop boxes can be placed.
Democrats and voting rights groups have criticized the bill, saying such changes to voting rights amount to the 2021 version of Jim Crow rules and other historical efforts to suppress the vote to gain a political advantage. Proponents argue the measures, proposed in the wake of the 2020 election, are necessary to fight election fraud, though the Department of Justice stated there was no widespread voter fraud in the presidential election.
Critics say the law will disproportionately impact voters of color, and Georgia’s NAACP chapter is challenging the measure in federal court.
Legislatures in Arizona, Texas and Florida are also considering proposals for additional ID requirements, restrictions on dropboxes, and cuts to private funding for local election offices.
In the letter opposing restrictive legislation, the nine sports unions, said: “We Stand for Democracy. A Government of the people, by the people. A beautifully American ideal, but a reality denied to many for much of this nation’s history.”
“As Americans, we know that in our democracy we should not expect to agree on everything,” the letter reads. “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.”
The letter says in order for “American democracy to work for any of us, we must ensure the right to vote for all of us,” and that we should all feel responsible “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,” the letter says.
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