To maximize the number of places for voters to cast their ballots, a long list of sports franchises have offered up their mostly empty stadiums and arenas as voting sites. About 49 teams from athletic organizations such as the NBA, WNBA, NFL, NHL and MLB have donated their sites for early voting, drop-off ballot sites, voter registration and Election Day voting venues.
The first team to offer up its facility was the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA. Its home-base, State Farm Arena, became the largest voting precinct in Georgia’s history. Lots of free parking and easy access by public transportation made it an ideal place for accessible, convenient, and safe voting. The arena was equipped with 300 voting machines and trained staff to help voters with any problems or questions. Anyone registered in Fulton County, Georgia’s largest as far as population size, was able to early vote at the arena.
Observers of voting in the county consider the use of the arena as a success. According to unofficial county election data, State Farm Arena had on average about 2,000 voters per day, many more than the number of voters at local libraries, recreation centers and other voting locales in Atlanta.
Michigan has also been helped to get the vote out through the efforts of sports. Jocelyn Benson, the Michigan secretary of state, is the leader of a bipartisan group of experts on elections, called “More Than A Vote,” a group created by NBA icon LeBron James. Benson explained that partnerships with sports teams helped election administrators “avoid what might’ve been quite challenging and a potentially even disastrous result without their help.”
“The real impact here can’t be understated. I don’t know how we would’ve been able to meet the needs in this extraordinary election cycle without these partnerships,” Benson said.