As Election Day nears there has been a concerted effort to combat voter suppression within communities of color and several professional athletes and sports franchises are stepping up to create safe spaces where individuals can exercise their right to vote. According to NBC News, over 40 stadiums and arenas have been transformed into polling sites.
Among the sports facilities being used are the Washington, D.C.-based Entertainment and Sports Arena, the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Many of the stadiums and arenas are allowing people to cast their votes regardless of what districts they live in. “What we found is that when polling stations are closed, even if others open, that can suppress the vote, because people may not have access to transportation or they may prefer to go to polling places they know and have used before,” Alison Parker, who serves as U.S. Managing Director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement according to the news outlet. “If the stadiums are being provided or donated as an additional location—not a replacement and not a consolidated venue—hopefully that saves the election board money to rent additional locations, provide personal protective equipment or offer more pay so younger people will be willing to man the polls.”
There are several voting initiatives that are at the intersection of sports and activism. More Than A Vote—a nonprofit organization founded by LeBron James that was designed to address voter suppression—recently teamed up with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund to recruit over 20,000 volunteer poll workers. The organizations focused on recruitment in predominantly Black electoral districts; determined to address the shortage of poll workers in communities of color. NBA player Chris Paul set out on a mission to ensure that HBCU students exercise their right to vote. He joined forces with other athletes to provide transportation for students to get to the polls.