This summer, the NBA staged an unprecedented work stoppage in the middle of the playoffs in Orlando as a response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man from Kenosha, Wisconsin. The Milwaukee Bucks were at the center of that walkout and led the way for the rest of the league to join their effort to bring awareness to a situation that has become all too familiar in American life.
Together with the league, they helped form a social justice coalition that was designed to fight racial inequity from an institutional standpoint and start a media campaign that would educate the public about the grim facts of inequality and its effects around the country.
One facet of that plan included using team-owned NBA arenas as voting locations in the coming elections in November. Many teams signed off on that idea, but now the Bucks, which were pivotal in enacting this initiative, are apparently rescinding their agreement to use Fiserv Forum as a voting center, citing threats of legal action from the state’s Republican party.
Election Commission Executive Director Claire Woodall-Vogg made the announcement Tuesday morning after a threat of a legal challenge from the Wisconsin Republican Party.
“Unfortunately, the addition of these two sites could be legally challenged due to a recent court ruling, and we don’t want to do anything that could risk a city of Milwaukee voter’s ballot being counted,” Woodall-Vogg said. “We want residents of Milwaukee to feel complete and unwavering confidence that their ballot will be counted in the election, and this action reflects that commitment.”
In a statement, the Bucks confirmed this decision, and stressed that they are “committed to encouraging and educating people to vote.”
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) October 6, 2020
As an offshoot of LeBron’s More Than A Vote campaign, the idea of using NBA arenas as voting sites is an effort to counteract widespread voter suppression tactics that disproportionately target minority groups. Many arenas are centrally located and readily accessible to help avoid overcrowding and long wait times on election day. The majority of voters in Milwaukee vote in person, and a list of 13 other early voting sites can be found here.