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Pistons offer facility to voters, following up on More than a Vote movement - The Washington Post


The Henry Ford Detroit Pistons Performance Center will become a voting center for the August and November elections. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

By Cindy Boren

Cindy Boren

Reporter covering sports, with an emphasis on politics and national stories

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July 2 at 11:49 AM

The Detroit Pistons are the latest sports organization to offer its facility as a place in which citizens can register to vote and cast ballots.

The Henry Ford Detroit Pistons Performance Center in Detroit will be a “satellite center” for the Aug. 4 primary and Nov. 3 general election, with employees getting a paid day off to vote and volunteer as election workers.

“When I think about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and the others that have been [killed], I think of how the dead cannot cry out for justice. It is the duty of the living to do so for them,” Pistons Vice Chairman Arn Tellem told reporters (via Freep.com). “And in our discussions with our players, coaching staff, employees, it’s how can we make ourselves heard and make our voices count, and to me, the vote is the most powerful way we can attack injustice and bring about change.”

Earlier this week, election officials in Fulton County, Ga., approved the use of State Farm Arena, home of the Atlanta Hawks, as an enormous early voting station for an Aug. 11 runoff election and the Nov. 3 general election. The move came after the state experienced long lines and other issues during a primary last month.

On Tuesday, the Milwaukee Bucks said they are working with LeBron James’s More than a Vote organization and hoped to make Fiserv Forum available “as a potential voting site.”

“We’re looking forward to working with the City of Milwaukee, in any capacity that we can, to ensure ppl can safely exercise their right to vote!” Bucks Senior Vice President Alex Lasry tweeted.

It’s part of a growing effort, led partly by James and other black athletes and entertainers through their More than a Vote initiative, to ensure that everyone, especially those in underserved communities, has the opportunity to vote. Using enormous sports arenas is one way to do that. Georgia and Wisconsin saw long lines of voters during primary elections, with the number of polling stations reduced in each state.

“Because of everything that’s going on, people are finally starting to listen to us — we feel like we’re finally getting a foot in the door,” James told the New York Times last week. “How long is up to us. We don’t know. But we feel like we’re getting some ears and some attention, and this is the time for us to finally make a difference.”

The group plans to do more than sign people up. Education will be a big focus of its efforts.

“Yes, we want you to go out and vote, but we’re also going to give you the tutorial,” James said. “We’re going to give you the background of how to vote and what they’re trying to do, the other side, to stop you from voting.”

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