Georgia Voting Law Prompts Talks of Moving All-Star Game, Pulling Masters From Augusta

Sweeping changes to Georgia voting laws were signed Thursday, and now two of the biggest national sporting events over the next few months are caught in the crossfire. Those would be the Masters next month in Augusta and Major League Baseball's All-Star Game this July in Atlanta.

The bill is championed by Republicans as a way to ensure fair and secure elections, and Democrats are calling it voter suppression. The state became a national battleground last year for both the presidential election and two U.S. Senate runoffs. Donald Trump lost the state, and eventually the White House. Two Democrats won their senate runoffs, thus flipping the majority in the U.S. Senate.

The new voting law includes voter ID for absentee ballots, fewer drop boxes and it makes it a crime to bring food and water to voters who wait in lines to cast their ballots.

The MLB Players Association (MLBPA) executive director Tony Clark said he would "look forward" to discuss moving the Midsummer Classic out of the Peach State.

"Players are very much aware," Clark said in the Boston Globe. "As it relates to the All-Star Game, we have not had a conversation with the league on that issue. If there is an opportunity to, we would look forward to having that conversation."

Meanwhile, the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), which is a leading Black civil rights group, has urged the PGA to pull the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club next month. He also encouraged golfers to not play the event.

"Georgia's new law restricting voting access is designed to turn back the clock on civil rights, and return Black and poor and already disenfranchised voters in Georgia to second class citizens," wrote David J. Johns, the NBJC executive director.

The Masters
Sweeping changes to Georgia voting laws were signed Thursday, and now two of the biggest national sporting events over the next few months are caught in the crossfire, including the Masters next month in Augusta, which is scheduled for April 8-11, 2021. The other event is the MLB All-Star Game in Atlanta this July. Photo via Getty Images

The 98-page bill flew through both chambers of the Georgia Congress on Thursday evening, and it was then signed by Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp on Thursday night. Kemp called it a way to "take another step toward ensuring our elections are secure, accessible, and fair."

Kemp acknowledged he would immediately have detractors who "will threaten, boycott, sue, demonize and team up with their friends in the national media to call me everything in the book."

Here are the changes in the state's voting laws:

  • New voter ID requirements for absentee ballots
  • State officials will oversee local election boards
  • There will be limited ballot drop boxes
  • Giving food and water to voters waiting in line will be a crime

Former President Donald Trump congratulated Georgia, saying, "They learned from the travesty of the 2020 Presidential Election, which can never be allowed to happen again. Too bad these changes could not have been done sooner."

President Joe Biden, who won Georgia last November, said the new laws are like "Jim Crow in the 21st century" and called them "un-American."

"This law, like so many others being pursued by Republicans in statehouses across the country is a blatant attack on the Constitution and good conscience," Biden said in a statement.

"If you want any indication that it has nothing to do with fairness, nothing to do with decency, they pass a law saying you can't provide water for people standing in line while they're waiting to vote," Biden told reporters on Friday. "You don't need anything else to know that this is nothing but punitive, designed to keep people from voting. You can't provide water for people about to vote. Give me a break."

As for the Masters, it's the only one of four PGA majors that's held at the same venue every year. It was most recently played in November (instead of April) 2020 because the COVID-19 pandemic forced a postponement. The NBJC is not only calling on the PGA to pull the tournament from August, but also for the golfers to boycott the event.

"The PGA Tour and Masters Tournament have both made commitments to diversify golf and address racial inequities in this country - and we expect them to not only speak out against Georgia's new racist voter suppression law - but to also take action," Johns said.

The Masters is scheduled for April 8-11, and the MLB All-Star Game is scheduled for July 13.