Back in July, we wrote a story about how the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks was converting its empty arena into a temporary polling station in order to attract local voters. Following Atlanta’s footsteps, another eight major pro sports teams have signed on to a plan to make their home venues available as voting “super centers” in the fall, as election authorities look for large spaces to use for safe in-person voting amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Election Super Centers Project has four NBA teams participating so far — the Indiana Pacers (Indianapolis), Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Wizards — as well as the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers, MLB’s Boston Red Sox and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils (Newark) and Washington Capitals (who share an arena and owner with the Wizards). The Golden State Warriors are also in discussions to join the program.
The project, a joint effort of the voting rights group National Vote at Home Institute and the Silver Linings Group, is designed to supplement regular voting and registration sites for the November election. Many of the arenas are usually hosting games, concerts or other mass events in the fall, but with mass gatherings on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic, they are available to ease the burden on polling precincts and give voters a better chance of avoiding long lines and maintaining social distancing protocols.
The effort already has a footprint in the important swing states of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and the group hopes to expand to include up to 25 teams and arenas in the coming weeks.