NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has sent a memo to NFL employees regarding Georgia's new voting legislation, which contains several provisions that will make it harder for numerous Georgians to exercise their constitutional right to vote.
USA Today's Mike Jones posted excerpts of the memo on Monday, which was then obtained in full by ProFootballTalk. In the memo, Goodell highlights the ways the NFL supported and promoted voting over the past year, and commits to continuing that in the future.
“I know that a number of you have asked questions about the recent Georgia legislation regarding that state’s voting procedures. Other states are considering voting-related legislation as well, and we can expect that these bills will continue to generate commentary and controversy, particularly in our current highly-charged political environment.
“We know that the right to vote is fundamental and at the core of our democracy. We will always support that right and the NFL has done so in a comprehensive and thoughtful way. Together with our players, and so many of you, the NFL and its 32 clubs showed true leadership through our NFL Votes initiative. This program addressed voting in a non-partisan and meaningful way, through voter education, voter registration, and direct support of voting across the country. We held more than 50 educational sessions on voting rights, and across the league, more than 90 percent of our players were registered to vote. Clubs promoted NFL Votes in a variety of ways, including on their own NFL Votes sites, through on-field signage, and by participating in ad campaigns on both traditional and social media. There were more than 400,000 unique visits to NFL and club voting sites. Nearly 160 million people saw one or more of our broadcast spots promoting voting — and even more people were reached through social media. And on election day, tens of thousands of people cast their votes at 16 NFL stadiums, and clubs supported election workers and voters by providing PPE, meals, and transportation.
“Our commitment to the right to vote and to fair and transparent elections is unwavering and NFL Votes was not an initiative for just one election cycle. We will continue this important work in upcoming elections and will actively support voters and the right to vote across the country, just as we did in 2020. And through initiatives like NFL Votes and Inspire Change, we will continue to listen and learn, bring people together, and work to make our communities stronger and more equitable.
“We will also support the work of our clubs and players in local communities, where so many of these issues will be debated and decided. In that respect, I want to share with you the statement that Arthur Blank and the Atlanta Falcons issued regarding the new law in Georgia.”
Falcons owner Arthur Blank released a statement about Georgia's new voting legislation on March 30, which Goodell appeared to include as graphic attached to the email.
What was missing from the memo
There were a few things that were notably missing from the memo. While Goodell mentions "Georgia legislation regarding that state’s voting procedures," he never goes deeper than that. There's nothing about why it has sparked so much controversy, or why the NFL's commitment to its voting rights programs remains important and necessary.
Goodell also noticeably didn't commit to doing anything new in response to the legislation. He only highlighted the NFL's existing programs, and didn't broach the possibility of excluding Georgia from hosting future events like the Super Bowl or the draft. That stands in sharp contrast to MLB, which announced last week that it's pulling the 2021 All-Star Game out of Atlanta in response to the new voter laws.
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