The Hawks will again open State Farm Arena as a voting precinct in two U.S. Senate runoffs in Georgia. The arena hosted 40,000 voters during early voting for the presidential election earlier this month. The Falcons and Mercedes-Benz Stadium are participating for the first time.
Hawks, Falcons team up for voting
State Farm Arena and Mercedes-Benz Stadium will each host a portion of the early voting period in Fulton County, AMB Sports and Entertainment (AMBSE) announced in a statement. AMBSE is the parent company for the Falcons, Atlanta United and Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Via statement, Hawks owner Tony Ressler said:
“We are proud to continue our partnership with Fulton County and begin this new one with AMBSE as we continue to fulfill our mission to be a community asset by ensuring that all Fulton County residents can safely exercise their right to vote in a safe, efficient manner. In these unprecedented times, the entire Hawks organization is dedicated to contributing to our community, and it is also important to all of us that we collaborate with other likeminded private sector organizations to build bridges with local and state government to support the needs of area residents.”
The Hawks’ arena will host voting from Dec. 14-19. The local board of elections will take a transition day on Dec. 21 and the the Falcons’ stadium will host from Dec. 22-30. (There is no voting on Dec. 24 and 25.)
The first set of dates is to accommodate the Falcons, who host a game Dec. 20. The NBA begins its new season on Dec. 22. The partnership could be a way for organizations to be involved in presidential elections during future years when leagues are back on their regular schedules.
Arenas, stadiums helpful for voting
The venues allow for social distancing as the number of COVID-19 cases rise across the United States. It also creates a place with more machines to vote on and therefore a shorter wait to cast a vote.
State Farm Arena held early voting in late October and had nearly 40,000 of the county’s 315,000 voters. President-elect Joe Biden won Georgia by 12,670 votes, according to the Associated Press.
Fulton County election officials said earlier this month they hoped their voting plans “will be a blueprint for other jurisdictions.”
Staples Center and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles also experienced a large draw of voters.
Georgia runoffs include Dream owner
The runoff election for two Senate seats is Jan. 5 and has another local sports connection. Atlanta Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler is running for the seat she was appointed to last December. She’s running against Rev. Raphael Warnock.
Loeffler attacked the WNBA’s support of the Black Lives Matter movement and its mission to “Say Her Name” and stand up for social justice in the 2020 season. Players from all 12 teams came together and endorsed Warnock for the seat. No one in the crowded race reached 50 percent of the vote, so the top two vote getters advanced to a runoff.
The Dream recently moved to the Gateway Center Arena @ College Park, but have not been able to play there yet because of COVID-19.
The other race is between incumbent Republican David Perdue and Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff. The results of the runoffs will determine which party is in control of the U.S. Senate.
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