MLB moves All-Star game from Atlanta over new voting laws

New York, New York - Major League Baseball Commissioner Robert Manfred on Friday said he decided to relocate the 2021 All-Star Game and MLB Draft from the city of Atlanta in response to a new Georgia law restricting voting rights.

The Atlanta Braves stadium, Truist Park, was supposed to host the All-Star game on July 13.
The Atlanta Braves stadium, Truist Park, was supposed to host the All-Star game on July 13.  © IMAGO / MediaPunch

Manfred said the decision was taken following discussions over the past week with clubs, players, the Players Association, and The Players Alliance, among others.

"I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star Game and MLB Draft," he said in a statement.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican, just over a week ago put a new election law into effect which will make postal voting more difficult and gives the state legislature more power to intervene while voting is under way.

MLB pays powerful tribute to Willie Mays and other Negro League stars
MLB MLB pays powerful tribute to Willie Mays and other Negro League stars

It will also ban third parties from speaking to voters as they stand in line – and will prohibit offering food and water to waiting voters.

Critics argue that Republicans want to use the reform as a way to reduce the participation of black people and other minorities because they are more likely to vote for Democrats.

Republicans argue that it is about making voting more secure.

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

Georgia Governor Kemp hits back

The controversial voting election bill passed the Georgia House amid protests that the proposals would make it harder for voters to participate in democracy.
The controversial voting election bill passed the Georgia House amid protests that the proposals would make it harder for voters to participate in democracy.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

The Atlanta Braves in a statement said they were "deeply disappointed" by the decision.

"The Braves organization will continue to stress the importance of equal voting opportunities and we had hoped our city could use this event as a platform to enhance discussion," the club said.

"Unfortunately, business, employees, and fans in Georgia are the victims of the decision," the statement continued.

Philadelphia Phillies triumph over New York Mets in London Series opener
MLB Philadelphia Phillies triumph over New York Mets in London Series opener

Governor Kemp hit back against the move in with a series of furious tweets: "MLB’s decision is not about access to voting. It’s about a lack of courage to stand up to the lies of a radical mob hellbent on distorting the truth for political gain," Kemp wrote, before accusing the league of caving "to the lies of the woke left."

In a series of tweets he went on to compare Georgia's voting laws with those in place in New York, where the MLB is headquartered.

"If @MLB is worried about access to the ballot box, they should check their own backyard," he said.

President Joe Biden won the traditionally Republican state of Georgia in the November presidential election by a few thousand votes. There was a high voter turnout.

Some Republicans in former president Donald Trump's circle made baseless claims of voter fraud, which courts rejected.

After the election and two Republican defeats in Senate run-offs several weeks later, local Republicans ramped up efforts to tighten up voting laws.

Cover photo: IMAGO / MediaPunch

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