Former President Barack Obama applauded Major League Baseball’s decision to pull this year’s All-Star Game out of Atlanta in protest of Georgia’s new restrictive voting law.
“Congratulations to @MLB for taking a stand on behalf of voting rights for all citizens. There’s no better way for America’s pastime to honor the great Hank Aaron, who always led by example,” Obama tweeted Saturday morning.
The “Midsummer Classic” was set for July 13 at Truist Park, home of the Atlanta Braves, in addition to other activities connected to the game, including the annual MLB Draft. A new site has not been announced yet.
Hank Aaron, the home-run-hitting baseball great, played 21 of his 23 seasons for the Braves.
Andrew Young, an early leader in the civil rights movement, described Aaron’s work on the baseball field as a form of civil rights activism. By being the face of baseball in the Deep South, he was showing that achievements can be made if the playing field were equal, Young told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in January following Aaron’s death.
“Baseball and Hank opened up a lot of doors in a lot of people’s minds,” he said.
The MLB’s decision to relocate the game came after Georgia Republicans passed restrictive changes to the state election process last month. The new law adds a host of restrictions, including requiring identification for mail voting and making it illegal to take food or water to voters in line.
Republican Gov. Brian Kemp quickly signed the bill into law, calling it “common sense” legislation while aligning himself with former President Donald Trump in remarks promoting the bill.
President Joe Biden showed his support for the league’s decision to move the All-Star Game out of Georgia to protest the new law on Wednesday following strong statements from Georgia-based companies such as Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines blasting the state’s law.
“The President has made his concerns about the bill passed in Georgia clear, given its extreme provisions that impact the ability of so many citizens to cast their votes,” a White House official Friday. “He said earlier this week that if the decision was made by Major League Baseball to move the All-Star game, he would certainly support that decision – and now that MLB has made that choice, he certainly does.”
Kemp blasted Biden, Delta Air Lines, Coca-Cola and MLB during the first 15 minutes of a press conference Saturday for criticizing the new law and accused them of not reading the bill as well as “caving into fear and lies from liberal activists.”
During the press conference, Republican Attorney General Chris Carr also denounced remarks from voting rights activist Stacey Abrams, who is also the former Georgia House of Representatives minority leader, as well as Democratic Georgia Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock for comparing the new law to the “Jim Crow era.”
Kemp also doubled down on previous remarks, arguing that the new legislation makes it “easy to vote and hard to cheat.”
However, the new law shortens the window of time in which voters can request absentee ballots and limits the number of absentee ballot drop boxes, among other restrictions such as requiring mail-in voters to include their driver’s license numbers or other documentation to verify their identities, instead of using signature verification.
It will dramatically shorten runoff elections from nine weeks to less than a month and cut the early voting period required for runoff elections from three weeks to one week. In January, runoff elections sent Warnock and Ossoff to Washington, securing the party’s majority in the Senate.
Kemp accused critics of the law of perpetuating “cancel culture” on Saturday, a day after Trump released a statement encouraging his sympathizers to “boycott baseball and all of the woke companies that are interfering with Free and Fair Elections.”