• on April 13, 2021

Georgia: Where Baseball Meets Politics

Major League Baseball (MLB) announced recently that it would move the MLB All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver, Colorado, because of a new Georgia voting law, SB 202. The move has prompted heated criticism toward the MLB from various elected Republicans and pundits. Strangely, some of the criticism is being directed at Colorado for its voting laws. To understand why the All-Star Game was moved and why criticism directed toward Colorado’s voting laws is misguided, more context is needed than what some pundits are giving.

While the new Georgia voting law may not go as far as some of its critics believe, the law still deserves criticism for many of its provisions and the circumstances surrounding its creation. 

Georgia’s new voting law gives greater power to state lawmakers by allowing Georgia’s General Assembly to select the chair of the state’s election board. The position was previously given to the Secretary of State. In 2020, it was GA Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger who resisted efforts by former President Trump to change the state’s vote totals. Georgia Republicans seem intent on having more control over the election board, which played such a critical role in defending Georgia’s election from Trump’s efforts to cheat.

The new Georgia law has many provisions which make voting harder. A few, but not all, of these provisions will be looked at here. The law limits the number of ballot drop boxes during early voting and also prohibits the distribution of food and water within 150 feet of polling places. The decision to prohibit individuals from sharing food and water with voters was an insulting decision by lawmakers, as Georgia has become famous in recent years for its hours-long voting lines, especially in communities of color. 

Georgia lawmakers introduced more than 20 bills this year aimed at changing voting laws, but it wasn’t the only state. Bills aimed at changing voting laws emerged across the country following President Trump’s 2020 election loss. Many of these bills were introduced in states where President Trump narrowly lost. In Georgia, many elected Republicans and voters claimed there were thousands of illegitimate votes cast in Georgia during the 2020 election. These claims played into a larger lie pushed by the Trump campaign and their allies that the entire 2020 election was stolen from Trump.

With this greater context for the Georgia voting law changes, and other voting law changes across the country, this new Georgia law deserves to be condemned for its efforts of playing into the lie that the election was stolen from Trump.

Colorado on the other hand has some of the best voting access of any state in the country. Upon hearing the news that MLB would be holding the All-Star Game in Denver, many people began criticizing Colorado’s voting laws, in an attempt to prove the MLB was hypocritical.

Critics of the venue change for the All-Star Game point to Colorado’s voting laws, comparing them to Georgia’s. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said, “Georgia has 17 days of in-person early voting including two optional Sundays, Colorado has 15. So what I’m being told, they also have a photo ID requirement. So it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.” Such a comparison between Colorado’s and Georgia’s voting laws is not an honest comparison unless presented in the right context. 

Colorado’s voting laws and Georgia’s voting laws are very different. Colorado’s elections are done almost completely through mail ballots and are considered some of the most secure in the entire country. With as many as 99 percent of Colorado voters using mail voting, only having 15 days of in-person early voting is truly a non-issue. Colorado does have an ID requirement, but the requirement is considered to be “non-strict” and is only required for mail voting when the voter is voting for the first time. Conversely, Georgia has a “strict” photo ID requirement for all voters. Colorado also has same-day registration, something Georgia doesn’t have. 

While Georgia’s new voting law is not as insidious as some of its first iterations, it is not unreasonable for MLB to condemn the law as it is and to take action to move the All-Star Game to a new venue. It is unreasonable, however, for opponents of the move to angrily go after Colorado, a state that has some of the best voting access in the country.

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