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Obama Congratulates Baseball League on Acting Against Georgia’s Voting Law, as Trump Demands Boycott

The new legislation, which took effect last month in the November election’s key battleground state, Georgia, imposes voter ID requirements for absentee ballots, among other rules meant to make future voting more transparent.

Former president Barack Obama has congratulated the Major League Baseball (MLB) on “taking a stand on behalf of voting rights for all citizens,” after the sport organisation’s decision to move its All-Star Game out of Atlanta in response to Georgia’s updated election law.

The new legislation, which took effect last month in the November election’s key battleground state, Georgia, imposes voter ID requirements for absentee ballots, among other rules meant to make future voting more transparent.

Referring to MLB’s plans to honour baseball legend and Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, who played for the Atlanta Braves, at the All-Star Game, Obama noted that “there’s no better way for America’s pastime to honour the great Hank Aaron, who always led by example.”

The Democrat’s explicit support of the move on Saturday appeared to be in stark contrast with his Republican successor’s statement the day before, where Donald Trump called for a boycott of baseball and all the “woke companies that are interfering with Free and Fair Elections”.

The bill, which was made law in March by Georgia GOP Governor Brian Kemp, introduces voter identification requirements for absentee ballots to rule out “dead” votes being counted, empowers state officials to take over local elections boards, limits the use of ballot drop boxes, as well as incriminates offering voters food and drink as they queue to cast their vote.

Georgia turned out to be a key battleground state in President Joe Biden’s victory over Trump in November, with the former president repeatedly alleging several counts of voter fraud and severe miscalculations of the ballots. Biden has fumed that the new legislation is “Jim Crow in the 21st Century” and “an atrocity”. On Wednesday, before the move – which is potentially damaging for the economy – was made public, he told ESPN that he would “strongly support” moving the landmark game out of Georgia’s city.

MLB’s decision to relocate the game (incidentally, it is unclear where) comes as tourism has been left in a shambles by the COVID-19 pandemic that locked large swathes of the country down for most of the past year.

Holly Quinlan, a Cobb County tourism official, suggested the “estimated lost economic impact” from the MLB “All-Star Game relocation is more than $100 million.

Governor Kemp called out the MLB’s decision during a Saturday news conference as giving in to “fear and lies from liberal activists” and placing “the wishes” of Biden and Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams “ahead of the economic wellbeing of hard-working Georgians who were counting on the All-Star Game for a paycheck.”

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