By AARON HARBER
With 81% of National Basketball Association players being Black and 70% of National Football League players following suit, many were surprised at the leadership demonstrated by Major League Baseball — where Black players constitute only 8% of team rosters — when Commissioner Rob Manfred moved the All-Star game from Atlanta to Denver.
In response to Georgia’s Republican-controlled legislature passing new voting restrictions which would disproportionately impact people of color, Manfred’s bold move was a statement demonstrating the sport’s commitment to the concept of maximizing citizens’ involvement in American democracy.
Manfred said, “Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box. In 2020, MLB became the first professional sports league to join the non-partisan Civic Alliance to help build a future in which everyone participates in shaping the United States. We proudly used our platform to encourage baseball fans and communities throughout our country to perform their civic duty and actively participate in the voting process. Fair access to voting continues to have our game’s unwavering support.”
Three key changes of the Georgia legislation included (1) requiring copies of identification to be included with absentee ballots, (2) severely reducing drop-box availability, and (3) politicizing election administration by permitting the Republican-controlled General Assembly to intervene in election decisions. MLB recognized these were not meant to maximize or secure voter participation; rather, this was a political power grab targeted primarily against people of color.
The Republicans creating and passing the legislation were well aware that poorer citizens were less likely to have scanning or photocopying equipment at home to copy identification documents so they knew their legislation would disproportionately disenfranchise Democratic voters.
Similarly, there was no factual basis for reducing the number of drop boxes as they repeatedly have been proven to be more convenient for voters and to not be susceptible to any kind of fraud.
Republicans who have reached out to me ask, “What’s wrong with requiring an ID when you vote? We require it when you buy alcohol. We require it when you fly. We require it when you drive. And look at some of the restrictions many Blue States have — some of them are far worse than Georgia.”
While these statements initially sound reasonable, my response is, “If you’re truly a conservative, you would join me in concluding, if there’s not a problem, I’m not for adding more rules and regulations. I’m not for creating more government bureaucracy and greater taxpayer expense. Remember, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’” It isn’t broken.
If other states — including Blue ones — have unreasonable laws which unfairly restrict the people’s access to the ballot, those bad laws don’t justify expansion of bad laws elsewhere. Rather, those laws should be changed, too.
The facts tell all of us — Democrats, Republicans, and others — voting fraud is extremely rare in America. Studies estimate the percentage of ballots cast fraudulently range from 0.0003 to 0.0025. That’s not one percent or one-tenth of a percent or even one-hundredth of one percent. That’s a range of 3 ten-thousandths to 25 thousandths of a percent. All these numbers are rounding errors to 0%.
Our system of voting, including signature verification for mail ballots, works just fine. This is why Republican secretaries of state, Republican election officials, and Republican-appointed state and federal judges across the country overwhelmingly have rejected claims of voter fraud.
They know how their election processes work and how secure they actually are. They are aware how mail ballots are scrupulously verified, how Democratic and Republican poll watchers and election judges work hand in hand to guarantee the accuracy and sanctity of American elections, and how other protocols are used to ensure only legal votes are counted. It’s time for those making groundless accusations of voter fraud to actually learn how our electoral systems work.
With more than 160 million votes cast for president in 2020, the estimated percentage of voter fraud — based on past studies from the conservative Heritage Foundation, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the Republican National Lawyers Association, and over 20 other sources — incontrovertibly proved voter fraud is so rare as to be meaningless.
The reality is that, when it comes to voting, U.S. citizens hold their rights sacrosanct and don’t cheat. It’s time for states such as Georgia to adopt similar principles and stop trying to “Steal the Vote” from Americans.
Aaron Harber, a Rockies fan and host of “The Aaron Harber Show” (HarberTV.com/Info + Aaron@HarberTV.com), never made it to the Major Leagues but was a bat boy for the Chicago White Sox, for whom he still roots.