President Joe Biden on Wednesday said he would support Major League Baseball moving its All-Star Game from Atlanta as a reprisal for a new election reform law passed by the state legislature and signed into law by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.
“I think that today’s professional athletes are acting incredibly responsibly. I would strongly support them doing that,” Biden said. “People look to them, they’re leaders. Look at what’s happened with the NBA as well. Look at what’s happened across the board. The people who’ve been victimized the most are the people who are the leaders in these various sports and it’s just not right.”
Biden, a Democrat who was speaking to ESPN, had been presented with remarks from Tony Clark, the executive director of the Major League Baseball (MLB) Players Association.
Clark told the Boston Globe last week that players “are very much aware” of the law, adding: “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.”
The game is slated to take place on July 13. Major League Baseball did not respond to a request for comment.
The bill in question requires photograph identification for absentee voting, ramped up security for drop boxes, and mandatory early voting dates. Georgia’s House approved it 100-75 while the state Senate approved it 34-20. No Democrats supported the measure.
Kemp, a Republican, signed the bill on March 25.
“I was proud to sign S.B. 202 to ensure elections in Georgia are secure, fair, and accessible,” he said in a tweet. “I appreciate the hard work of members of the General Assembly to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat.”
Biden has claimed the law is racist, invoking Jim Crow measures that enforced racial segregation.
“This is Jim Crow on steroids, what’s they’re doing in Georgia and 40 other states,” Biden told ESPN.
“Imagine passing a law saying you cannot provide water or food for someone standing in line to vote, can’t do that? Come on!” the president added. “Or you’re going to close a polling place at 5 o’clock when working people just get off? This is all about keeping working folks and ordinary folks that I grew up with from being able to vote.”
The law prohibits people from providing money or gifts, including food and drink, to an elector at polling places. However, poll workers can make self-service water “from an unattended receptacle” available to voters waiting in line.
There is no provision about polls closing at 5 p.m.
In contrast with Biden, former President Donald Trump has praised Georgia’s new law.
“Congratulations to Georgia and the Georgia State Legislature on changing their voter Rules and Regulations. They learned from the travesty of the 2020 Presidential Election, which can never be allowed to happen again,” he wrote in a statement last week. “Too bad these changes could not have been done sooner!”
Mimi Nguyen Ly contributed to this report.