Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles / Photo from loc.gov

Recently, 20 NBA teams from the Northeast all the way to the West Coast have announced plans to transform their facilities and arenas into voting sites for this fall’s upcoming presidential election. 

As part of an agreement organized with the National Basketball Players Association union, the NBA will be converting franchise owned and operated arenas across the U.S. into accessible voting locations due to them being empty and unused.

It is evident that the COVID-19 pandemic has not only spread panic and caused national lockdowns, but has also opened up spaces like these arenas since the basketball games, hockey games, concerts and other events that would normally be held there are not occurring this season. Therefore, on Nov. 3, the large indoor spaces are expected to provide enough room to accommodate social distancing precautions and other safety measures for in-person voting. 

This project is truly monumental as it is connecting both the arenas and the teams that play there with local election officials in an unprecedented way this November: to create super centers.

A super center is a location that has been set up to organize and handle much larger numbers of voters from across any one jurisdiction (usually a county), where anyone is able to vote regardless of their typical polling place. This will surely have a tremendous impact on the election as higher numbers of people will be able to vote, causing voter participation across the nation to soar. As more people are voting, they will be electing an official they feel is both responsive to and reflective of the communities they serve.

“In every city where the league franchise owns and controls the arena property, team governors will continue to work with local elections officials to convert the facility into a voting location for the 2020 general election to allow for a safe in-person voting option for communities vulnerable to COVID,” the NBA’s statement reads. “If a deadline has passed, team governors will work with local elections officials to find another election-related use for the facility, including but not limited to voter registration and ballot receiving boards.”   

Moreover, both the NBA and the NBPA made a revolutionary announcement Friday in which the players agreed to resume the postseason only with the introduction of a plethora of new social justice initiatives in place. As a result, the league will be forming a coalition of coaches, governors and players to work together on various social justice programs that will promote civic engagement through advertising space.

The spark to ignite social change became a driving force in the minds of NBA players after the nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd made headlines. However, it was not until the rather recent police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin last month that the NBA began making solid and committed efforts to fighting the racial inequalities that have intensified in our society today. 

Hence, as this year’s election date approaches, voters will be able to go and vote in a multitude of locations including the Staples Center in Los Angeles (home to the Lakers), Madison Square Garden in New York City (home to the Knicks), the AT&T Center in San Antonio (home to the Spurs) and more.

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