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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Dormant sports stadiums have been repurposed in a variety of ways during the pandemic, and with the national election fast approaching, some are being converted into voting locations.

Driving the news: More Than A Vote, the voting rights organization launched by LeBron James and other Black athletes like Patrick Mahomes and Sloane Stephens, has established a bipartisan arena voting advisory group.

  • The goal is to connect teams with local elections officials and convert arenas into voting sites, leveraging their size (good for social distancing) and location (easy to access/find on a map).

The backdrop: The Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks, Sacramento Kings and Charlotte Hornets are among the NBA teams that have already established such partnerships.

  • In a memo obtained by Axios, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell encouraged teams to "consider allowing their stadiums or indoor practice facilities to be used as election centers on Election Day."

What they're saying: "American Democracy does not have a pause button," the advisory group wrote in a Front Office Sports op-ed.

  • "During a civil war, two world wars, natural disasters, and domestic crises, we have managed to provide our citizens with the tools they need to fulfill the most fundamental civic duty."
  • "In this instance and in the absence of live sports, some of our most treasured civic institutions — our sports teams — can still open their doors to ensure that voting is convenient and safe for all."

Go deeper

Oct 17, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Race and voting in America

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo. Logo: Miranda Leung/Axios. Photos: Bettmann, Stephen F. Somerstein/Getty Images

Americans believe that all citizens have equal access to our fundamental democratic right: voting. But the fact is racial politics still suppress votes.

Restoring the vote to Americans with felony records

Expand chart
Data: The Sentencing Project; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Mass incarceration has fueled Black voter disenfranchisement for decades in the U.S.

Why it matters: More than 5 million Americans are unable to vote because of a felony record, and they are disproportionately Black. The fight to undo felon disenfranchisement laws is gaining ground and could radically shift the political landscape. But progress is also fueling opposition.

Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults

A vaccination center installed at the Barbara Chapel of St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, Austria. Photo: Alex Halada/AFP via Getty Images

Austria's lower house of parliament voted on Thursday in favor of making COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory for most adults from next month.

Why it matters: The bill is expected to soon pass the upper house and be signed by President Alexander Van der Bellen in order for the law to take effect Feb. 1, per Reuters. It'd make Austria the first EU nation to impose such a sweeping mandate.