MLB Pulls Out of Georgia Over Restrictive Voting Law

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Nathan Posner/Shutterstock (11791513g)Opponents of HB 531 & SB 241, Republican backed bills accused of purporting voter suppression, hold a protest outside the Georgia state capitol building on March 8, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Nathan Posner/Shutterstock / Nathan Posner/Shutterstock

After the passage of Georgia’s Senate Bill 202, which fundamentally changes the voting rules for those in the state, Major League Baseball says it is no longer interested in holding its annual All-Star Game in the state’s biggest city. In a statement, the highest governing body for professional baseball in the United States said it would move the 2021 All-Star festivities from Atlanta to a new site to be announced in the future.

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Politicians on Both Sides Criticize MLB Over $100 Million Decision

According to the comments by baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, the change was made after “thoughtful conversations” with the 30 Major League Baseball clubs, former and current players and the players’ union and alliance. The move was made as a statement to “demonstrate our values as a sport.”

“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” Manfred said in the statement. “Fair access to voting continues to have our game’s unwavering support.”

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According to CNN, moving the All-Star Game out of Atlanta will cost the city and the state of Georgia over $100 million in economic impact. MLB’s decision to strip the hosting the game from the Atlanta Braves was immediately criticized by politicians on both sides, but for different reasons.

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Current Georgia governor Brian Kemp, who signed the bill into law on Thursday, March 25, accused the MLB of “(caving) to fear, political opportunism, and liberal lies” on Twitter. Through political group Greater Georgia, former senator Kelly Loeffeler said baseball’s governing body “has fallen into the woke, misinformation campaign being spread by Democrats — only to the detriment of hardworking Georgians and small businesses.”

Current Georgia senator Rev. Raphael Warnock called the decision “the unfortunate consequence” of politicians pushing the restrictive voting reform bill forward. Instead of calling for further boycotts, Warnock said he would hope “businesses, athletes and entertainers” would protest “not by leaving Georgia but by coming here and fighting voter suppression head on, and hand-in-hand with the community.” Prominent Democratic organizer Stacey Abrams also called on companies not to boycott but to support Georgians. In a statement, she noted that, “I don’t want to see Georgia families hurt by lost events and jobs…We should not abandon the victims of GOP malice and lies — we must stand together.”

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Fallout Continues for Companies Speaking Out Against Voting Bill

The accusations against the MLB comes after Georgia state politicians attempted to strip away $40 million in jet fuel tax credits from Atlanta’s Delta Air Lines. When air carrier chief executive Ed Bastian issued a second memo to call the voting reform “unacceptable,” CBS News reported Georgia’s House of Representatives approved a new bill to cut tax credits. The move was symbolic at best, as the state Senate did not take up the resolution before adjourning its yearly session.

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