NBA arenas to be used as voting sites for 2020 General Election

Dozens of facilities to be transformed for the upcoming election

The NBA will be converting its arenas and other franchise-owned facilities into voting centers for the upcoming general election with the goal of providing a safe in-person voting site for the public. 

This was announced in a public statement made on Aug. 28 after a player-organized strike, in which teams refused to play their playoff games on Aug. 26. The strike was in protest of the police shooting of 29-year-old Black man Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, which is less than an hour away from the Milwaukee Bucks home arena. 

“Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action. So, our focus today cannot be on basketball,” Bucks small forward and shooting guard Sterling Brown said in a statement from the Bucks.

The strike spurred discussion between the players and league administration about how the NBA can increase its political efforts — converting arenas into voting centers was one outcome of these discussions. 

With the general election taking place  Nov. 3, some Oak Park High students will be able to participate in the election. Senior Jordan Nehira said he plans on voting in the 2020 general election. 

“I’d prefer to vote by mail or online just because of COVID,“ said Nehira. “But I’ll probably be going in, if that’s what everyone else is gonna be doing, if that’s the only [way] I’m able to vote. As long as everyone at the centers are masked and distanced I think it will be fine.”

Oak Park teacher Jackson Hall said that he, too, plans to vote in the 2020 presidential election, though he will be doing so via a mail-in ballot. He explained that, though he sees the NBA’s decision as an overall positive, there may be some issues with implementation. 

“TD Garden, the arena the Celtics play in, cannot be used because there are strict deadlines in Massachusetts for registering polling places and unfortunately those deadlines have passed,” Hall wrote to the Talon. “Other arenas, like Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix won’t be used because of construction plans. Ultimately it seems like a positive idea, but there are still lots of obstacles that prevent all 29 arenas from operating as polling places. Hopefully it makes it easier for people to vote safely in at least some of these cities.”

In the 2016 general election, 58.1% of America’s voting-eligible population actually voted, meaning that 42.9% of eligible voters did not participate in the 2016 election. 

“I believe that voting is important. It is one of the only ways that we, as citizens, get to exercise our political efficacy and have an influence on our government,” Hall wrote. 

Some NBA franchises have already had experience transforming arenas into voting centers. The Atlanta Hawks converted the State Farm Arena into the then-largest voting precinct ever for Georgia’s primary runoff elections back in August. 

If you are a U.S. citizen who will be at least 18 years old on or before election day, you can register to vote here: vote.gov.

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