The Ethics of Moving the All-Star Game from Atlanta
There are at least four questionable parts of the new Georgia law establishing a voter ID requirement to vote in state and federal elections in the state. The most important of which is requiring an ID for voters using an absentee ballot. Second, it is now illegal to have mobile polling facilities as well unless the Governor declares a state of emergency to allow it. Third, it is now illegal for election officials to mail out absentee ballot applications to all voters. Fourth, the number of drop boxes has been limited and tied to the size of a county’s active registered voters or the number of advance voting locations in the county.
Major League Baseball’s Reaction
Major League Baseball has come out against Georgia’s new law claiming it is voter suppression. Even if that were so, and I am not saying it is, is a boycott of the state by corporations the right way to express dissent? Should MLB have moved the All-Star Game from Atlanta to Colorado? After all, the parties most harmed are citizens who would like to see the game in person. Moreover, small businesses will be hurt because having the game in Atlanta would have provided a boost to the local economy.
I am not against corporations or athletes using their position in society to express their political points of view. After all, they have a platform, loyal followers, and the respect of many in the community. In the case of the Georgia voter ID law, however, I think the moral outrage is not warranted and at best, hypocritical. MLB has bolstered ties with a Communist Party-backed Chinese company that cracked down on an NBA executive who supported the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.
Human rights groups believe China has detained more than a million Uighurs over the past few years in what the state defines as "re-education camps". There is evidence of Uighurs being used as forced labor and of women being forcibly sterilized. The U.S. is among several countries to have accused China of committing genocide and crimes against humanity through its repression of the Uighurs. China denies such allegations, saying it has been combatting separatism and Islamist militancy in the region.
Where is the moral outrage of MLB? How can it ethically justify increased relationships with China and the Chinese government while criticizing Georgia? The answer is there are billions of dollars to be made by MLB because of the large population in China, 1.4 billion, which is three times the population of the U.S. For China, they exercise tremendous influence over MLB because of the possibility of selling merchandise and putting on exhibitions to garnish even more support.
Specifics in the New Law
I have a few comments on the specifics of Georgia’s new voter ID requirement. The most important issue is whether there should be a voter ID requirement at all. Corporations headquartered in Georgia and others have come out against the decision by the Georgia legislature because they claim it discriminates against minority groups, especially Black Americans. Any attempt to restrict access should be examined thorough the lends of whether it meets the ethical standard of fairness.
There is no doubt that voter fraud is a possibility especially when ballots are mailed to all citizens whether they applied for an absentee ballot or not. The mail can be intercepted; the person may have moved; the person might have died. There even could be a situation where a person votes two or more times. That is why I am against mailing ballots to every citizen.
Voting is a right and as such the voter should be willing to apply for an absentee ballot. The process is quite simple and in most states the voter does not have to provide any reason for the request. These days you can register to vote by picking up an application at your local post office. The same should be done with absentee ballot requests. To expand the process, all pharmacies should do the same. It seems to me just about every person goes to a pharmacy and/or uses the post office. A friend or family member could even pick up a ballot application.
We seem to have lost sight that voting is a right and there is nothing wrong with asking voters to expand some energy to register to vote or request an absentee ballot to exercise that right. It even makes for a better, more aware citizen, something we should cultivate in America. I believe it fosters patriotism as well, which may be why a lot of people would prefer in-person voting. You feel better when you walk out of the facility with that “I voted” stick on. You feel proud to be an American.
We should use more, not less, drop boxes. Drop boxes are used to mail in income taxes why not use it to mail in completed ballots? Drop boxes could be especially valuable in hard-to-reach communities – small/rural communities. Citizens would not have to travel long distances to cast their ballots.
I do not understand why mobile facilities should not be used to facilitate voting. This is another way to serve underrepresented and minority communities. Since the voter must go to the mobile location, requiring a voter ID makes sense. It is not just a driver’s license that can provide proof of one’s ID, but any government issued ID – i.e., social security card. Perhaps we need to expand the process for requiring a voter ID. I recommend that every registered voter receive an ID card, which is already done in most states, and show it at the voting site or use the ID number on the absentee ballot. Let’s face it, we may be on the verge of doing the same, in limited cases, with Covid-19 vaccination cards.
I would like to see a national debate on voter ID laws. I think it would be healthy to examine all sides of the issue without the threat of cancelling a state for its decision to require voter ID. The cancel culture is not the answer to all sensitive issues. A reasoned, thoughtful debate is with an open mind and respect for all positions.
Posted by Dr. Steven Mintz, The Ethics Sage, on April 7, 2021. You can sign up for his newsletter and learn more about his activities at: https://www.stevenmintzethics.com/. Follow him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/StevenMintzEthics and on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/ethicssage.