CLEVELAND — The Tribe's manager, Terry Francona, spoke out about Major League Baseball's recent decision to relocate the All-Star Game and MLB Draft out of Atlanta, Georgia—in response to a new voting rights law in the state that critics have called "unacceptable" and "a step backward"—and said he "fully supports" the move.
"If there are people that are trying to marginalize some people's voting, I support our players, or our industry or whoever making the the decisions to do that," Francona said. "I fully support that because that can't be. That can't be the case."
Francona said he, like others, know that matters such as the one in Georgia can be confusing, especially with conflicting perceptions about how the new elections law impacts voters.
Georgia’s new law makes changes to how people can vote and who oversees the statewide process. A few of the changes include:
- The Georgia secretary of state is no longer the chair of the state elections board, instead the chair of the board is appointed by the state legislature.
- The state elections board now has the ability to suspend local county elections officials and replace them if the board feels they have been doing their job poorly.
- Absentee ballots will be sent to voters only 29 days before an election, down from the previous 49 days.
- Absentee ballots can only be requested 78 days before an election, down from 180 days.
- Applications for absentee ballots must be received no later than 11 days before an election, the previous was four days before the election.
- Those using absentee ballots must provide their driver’s license number, state ID number, or last four digits of their Social Security number to confirm their identity. The new law does away with the state’s signature matching system.
- It will now be guaranteed that at least one absentee ballot dropbox will be in each Georgia county, however there are now limits on how many each county can have and how many hours and days they can be open. Dropboxes were authorized by a special rule for during the pandemic.
- Two Saturdays of early voting are mandatory, open at least 10 hours each day, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Being open for two Sundays is optional.
- A person can now face a misdemeanor if they give “money and gifts” which includes food and drink, to any voter within a polling place, within 150 feet of a building with a polling place, or within 25 feet of a voter standing in line to vote.
While the All-Star Game and MLB Draft will be moved out of Georgia, the league will still celebrate the life of baseball legend and Atlanta icon Hank Aaron during the events—but Francona believes the decision to relocate the events this summer is in itself a great way to honor Aaron.
"I do think to pay tribute to Mr. Aaron, I think think this was a wonderful way to start doing that," Francona said. "For a guy who certainly led by example in a time when it wasn't that easy to do that and in an area where it wasn't that easy to do that—this is kind of a fitting tribute."