Tuesday October 27, 2020
The next US president will be elected on November 3rd. US citizens can vote in schools, libraries, community rooms. And this year for the first time in world-famous stadiums. US sport is actively involved in the election campaign – an NBA superstar leads the way.
Because of the corona pandemic, it may be months before the fans of the Los Angeles Rams are allowed to go to the billion-dollar new SoFi Stadium for the first time. So far, most of them have only seen the futuristic system from television. The presidential election in the USA now offers not only the Rams supporters the chance to at least have a look around the Hollywood Park grounds. Like many of the other giant stadiums and sports halls in US professional sport, the complex in Inglewood is also a polling station for the first time in this heated election between incumbent Donald Trump and his challenger Joe Biden.
This remarkable development was triggered by the teams of the NBA, or rather the basketball professionals of the league. Since the death of the African American George Floyd caused by police officers and the subsequent national protests against racism and police violence against blacks, the men and women in this sport in particular have campaigned for the infrastructure of their teams to be used for voting. Because they want to prevent people from voting – because the queues are too long, the concern about the coronavirus in small polling stations such as schools or libraries is too great or they simply don’t feel wanted and harassed.
LeBron James animates voters
The NBA superstar and declared Trump opponent LeBron James has also launched the “More than a vote” initiative and wants to encourage black people in particular to actually cast their votes. With his millions of fans on social networks, the Los Angeles Lakers professional has an enormous reach. Until the end of the season, many NBA players’ jerseys also had “Vote” (choose), and in interviews the professionals repeatedly pointed out the need to vote. The National Football League broadcasts prime-time spots during NFL games and calls for votes.
“Opening a place like a basketball arena is as big a change as you can imagine,” USA Today quoted Kennesaw State University political scientist Ben Taylor as saying recently. “It’s an incredibly great development because there are lots of people voting in one place. So if problems arise, they are fixed in one place. Or if it rains in the early election days, they can get people inside and keep the distance. ”
“Can make a difference”
The Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings – a total of 20 NBA teams provide facilities. According to the NFL, 16 football teams want to make their arenas usable for voting in some way. It is not possible to vote in full everywhere, in some places citizens can only register or hand in their already completed ballot papers. But this is also intended to drive up voter turnout. Also football stadiums from the MLS, baseball stadiums from the MLB or halls from the women’s basketball league WNBA are among the places that can be visited before and on November 3rd. These include the iconic Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and Madison Square Garden in New York.
The State Farm Arena in Georgia is one of them. Dennis Schröder played there for five years for the Atlanta Hakws. Much greater than the influence of the German national player at the beginning of his career as an NBA professional could be the effects of the use of the Hawks in this election. Because their home ground is one of the already open polling stations, Americans can cast their votes there for a total of 19 days. According to “USA Today” 302 voting machines there theoretically come together tens of thousands of votes – in a state that Republican Trump won four years ago, but which is now contested and could go to Biden.
The Hawks, who have assigned staff to keep the hall running effectively and using their huge influence in the region to encourage people to vote, welcome Democrats and Republicans alike. Political scientist Taylor suggests that minorities or people with low incomes tend to be Democrats and could be drawn in by the advantages of a polling station as large as the basketball arena. “That can make a difference.”