Sporting world opens up its doors to voters, hopes for positive impact on turnout


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The Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia is one of the stadiums that will be turned into a voting site for the upcoming election. The involvement of sporting franchises is likely to drive up voter turnout, which was at a two decade-low in 2016.

Leading up to what is sure to be one of the most vital elections in U.S. history on Nov. 3, sporting franchises across the United States have begun opening their stadium doors to voters.

Numerous teams across states and leagues, including the NFL, NBA, WNBA, NHL, MLB and MLS are participating in what can be described as the American sporting world taking initiative and encouraging eligible people to exercise their right to vote.

In 2016, the U.S. saw a 20-year low in voter turnout, as only 55% of eligible Americans voted in the election. Fast forward to 2020, and there are already a multitude of sports teams that have allowed their arenas to be used as in-person polling sites, demonstrating sports’ ongoing ability to tackle societal issues.

The hope is that by merging the experiences of interacting with their favorite sports teams, people will be more enthused about the prospect of voting than ever before. In some cases, going to vote at an arena may not only be more exciting but a more accessible option, too.

The Super Bowl-winning Kansas City Chiefs were among the first of the participating teams to announce their plans to make their stadium a voting location. The Tampa Bay Lightning opened its Amalie Arena for early voting and mail ballot drop-off, as well as launched the “Be the Thunder. Be the Vote.” campaign to coincide with National Voter Registration Day. By doing this, sports are using their undoubted societal influence to affect change.

In Dallas, fans of the Mavericks will be able to cast their vote at the American Airlines Center from Oct. 30 to Nov. 3. The arena will be the largest polling center in Dallas County during this period, with the Mavericks having hosted a drive-thru registration event in the middle of September in order to ensure people registered to vote ahead of the Oct. 5 deadline.

In Los Angeles, the recently crowned NBA champion Lakers’ Staples Center will become an in-person voting site for L.A. County residents on the same dates. Lakers figurehead LeBron James has been leading a voting rights organization called More Than a Vote, which has long surpassed the recruitment of 10,000 poll workers and received acclaim from former president Barack Obama for its active attempts at increasing black voter participation in particular. The second phase of that particular push for voter participation is focused on 11 cities: Birmingham, Jackson, Houston, San Antonio, Montgomery, Charlotte, Cleveland, Detroit, Flint, Milwaukee and Philadelphia.

The likelihood is that the initiatives of sporting institutions will have huge impacts on the turnout figures we see for 2020. Whatever the outcome, sports teams nationwide have played their part in spreading the word about the importance of voting and intertwining the experiences of being an enthused sports fan and an engaged voting citizen.