When the Milwaukee Bucks started a wildcat strike of games during the NBA’s return bubble, Barack Obama spoke with LeBron James, Chris Paul, and other players and said use your platform to intact real change.
One of those changes players pushed for — and LeBron’s “More Than A Vote” organization made a priority — was to turn NBA arenas into polling places and voting centers, especially in underserved areas. To give people a place to make their voice heard in the tense and tight race between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, as well as other important ballot choices around the nation.
• Atlanta’s State Farm Arena, which was both a place people could vote and a location for vote counting in Fulton County (even despite a burst pipe). The Hawks’ Trae Young bought the vote counters lunch on Friday.
Thank you poll workers at State Farm Arena for your hard work and being a valuable player in our democracy! pic.twitter.com/WFcU1qyTGc
— Trae Young (@TheTraeYoung) November 6, 2020
• The Detroit Piston’s practice facility in the city, the Henry Ford Performance Center, was a voting center.
• The Phoenix Suns’ former home, the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, was a voting center and early ballot drop off location.
• Team facilities also were used for voting or as a ballot drop off location in Brooklyn, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Oakland, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Sacramento, San Antonio, Salt Lake City, and Washington D.C.
• The Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia was made available as a voting center, as was the American Airlines Arena in Miami, but both were blocked from being used as voting centers.
It’s a mistake to say the push by NBA players changed the election. We don’t have exact numbers on how many people voted at NBA sites (yet), we have no idea how many of the people who voted at those locations would have voted elsewhere, and we also don’t know who people voted for at those locations. While the votes in Georgia’s Fulton County, including Atlanta, are being counted in the State Farm Arena, they would have been counted somewhere else if the facility were not available.
However, NBA players and teams made voting more convenient and helped make sure every vote was counted — something vital and at the core of American democracy.