In response to the passing of new voting laws in Georgia, the MLB announced they are moving the organization’s All-Star Game and MLB draft from the State. The legislation called the “New Jim Crow” by voting rights activists imposes voter identification requirements for absentee ballots, empowers state officials to take over local election’s boards, limits the use of ballot drop boxes, and makes it a crime to approach voters to give them food and water as they wait in line. Opponents of the bill believe it disproportionally affects voters in mostly black and brown communities.
The MLB has not said where the July 2021 All-Star game will be held. MLB Commissioner, Rob Manfred said, “Over the last week, we have engaged in thoughtful conversations with Clubs, former and current players, the Players Association, and The Players Alliance, among others, to listen to their views, I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star Game and MLB Draft.”
Voting rights advocates and activists have called on a statewide boycott of companies supporting the legislation. In a statement posted on the Civic Alliance Website, over 100 CEOs and business leaders stated,
“Our elections are not improved when lawmakers impose barriers that result in longer lines at the polls or that reduce access to secure ballot drop boxes. There are hundreds of bills threatening to make voting more difficult in dozens of states nationwide. We call on elected leaders in every state capitol and in Congress to work across the aisle and ensure that every eligible American has the freedom to easily cast their ballot and participate fully in our democracy”.
While the MLB appears to make a statement by hitting the state in their pockets, the MLB team that would have hosted the All-Star game was disappointed in the organization’s decision. The Atlanta Braves organization said, “This was neither our decision nor our recommendation and we are saddened that fans will be able to see this event in our city. The Braves organization will continue to stress the importance of equal voting opportunities and we had hoped our city could use this event as a platform to enhance the discussion.”
Republican governor, Brian Kemp, went further tweeting, “Today, Major League Baseball caved to fear, political opportunism, and liberal lies.”
Leadership from Atlanta stressed the economic impact the legislation could have on the city and the state. In a tweet, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said, “Unfortunately, the removal of the @MLB All-Star game from GA is likely the 1st of many dominoes to fall, until the unnecessary barriers put in place to restrict access to the ballot box are removed. Voting rights champion, Stacey Abrams issued a statement on Twitter saying, “They prioritized making it harder for people of color to vote over the economic well-being of all Georgians,”
The host city for the MLB All-Star game was particularly special as they planned to honor hometown baseball icon, Hank Aaron. The legendary baseball star built his career playing for the Atlanta Braves. The MLB still intends to honor Aaron during their All-Star Festivities.
The MLB has not announced a new location for the July 2021 All-Star game.
Danielle Sanders is a journalist and writer living in Chicago. Find her on social media @DanieSandersOfficial.