Major League Baseball on Friday announced that it is pulling its 2021 All-Star Game and 2021 draft out of Atlanta in response to a Georgia voting law that critics claim makes it more difficult for underrepresented individuals, particularly black voters, to exercise their constitutional right to vote.
“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,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “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.”
Manfred said MLB “fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box.”
The commissioner did not announce where the game or the draft would be relocated to.
The decision comes after President Joe Biden told ESPN on Wednesday that he would “strongly support” moving the July 13 game because of a law he described as “Jim Crow on steroids.”
Georgia governor Brian Kemp, a Republican, signed the bill into law last week. The legislation calls for changing the rules and processes for requesting an absentee ballot, including mandating that voters present valid forms of photo identification.
The measure also regulates the future use of drop boxes, which were implemented as a COVID innovation, and the early voting period for runoff elections and gives the state the authority to take over county elections or remove local elections officials.
The bill, which passed along party lines in both chambers of the state legislature, also prohibits items, including food and beverages, from being offered by outside groups to voters waiting in line to cast their ballots. It does allow for water stations to be set up for voters in line.
Proponents of the law deny accusations that it aims to suppress votes, pointing out that the legislation does not place new limits on voting hours and makes the state’s elections more secure without restricting voter access. Proponents have argued that the law has been misrepresented.
“Corporations have to stand up. There is no middle ground,” said Ken Chenault, former American Express CEO, during an appearance on CNBC. “This is about all Americans having the right to vote, but we need to recognize the special history of the denial of the right to vote for Black Americans, and we will not be silent,” he added.
Georgia companies, including Delta, have been threatened with boycotts by opponents of the new voting law who charge that local corporations should have worked harder to intervene before the legislation passed.