EDITORIAL: Pa. All-Star Game pitch is a stretch

York Dispatch Editorial Board
FILE - In this Oct. 7, 2018, file photo, ground crews prepare the field at Sun Trust Park, now known as Truist Park, ahead of Game 3 of MLB baseball's National League Division Series between the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers in Atlanta. Truist Park lost the 2021 All-Star Game on Friday, April 2, 2021, when Major League Baseball decided to move the game elsewhere over the league’s objection to Georgia’s sweeping new election law that critics say restricts voting rights. (AP Photo/John Amis, File)

A pair of Pennsylvania Democrats are urging Major League Baseball to move the uprooted-from-Georgia All-Star Game to Pittsburgh. They have one problem: Pennsylvania Republicans. 

Make no mistake about it. Georgia’s recent election law restrictions are a partisan affront to democracy. Among the provisions:

  • Photo ID is required to vote by mail.
  • The GOP-run state Election Board now has authority to intervene in county elections — even to the point of replacing local elections officials.
  • A ban on giving food and water to voters waiting in line.

Those lines, recall, are already long in Georgia, where closing down polling places has become a political pastime in recent years — especially in districts with higher rates of Black voters.

In fact, many of Georgia’s new restrictions — and similar GOP proposals across the country — would disproportionately affect voters of color. That’s why Georgia’s law was blasted by President Joe Biden — among many others — as “Jim Crow in the 21st century.”

Worth noting: Few if any of the restrictions would likely have survived federal review under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which curbed Jim Crow abuses. Thank the Supreme Court’s conservative majority for gutting that historic Civil Rights landmark nearly 10 years ago.

More:MLB moving All-Star Game in response to voting restrictions

Republican lawmakers may take solace in the fiction that they are “restoring faith in the electoral process” — faith, for the thousandth time, that they undermined with lies about the 2020 presidential election — but few others are buying it, corporate interests among them. 

Atlanta-based Delta Airlines and the Coca-Cola Co. have issued statements criticizing the new law. And Major League Baseball announced it is moving the 2021 All-Star Game, which was to have been played in Atlanta’s Truist Park.

“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said in the statement.

Can’t get much clearer than that.

Which brings us to Democratic Pennsylvania state Sens. Jay Costa and Wayne Fontana. The pair lost no time in firing off a letter to the MLB pitching Pittsburgh’s PNC Park as the perfect venue for the mid-summer classic. They cited, “the vistas of Downtown … the intimacy of (the) stadium … and, more importantly, Pennsylvania boasts unfettered access for our citizens to the ballot box.”

Perhaps Sens. Costa and Fontana were focused on the MLB playoffs last fall, because they seem to have forgotten that their Republicans colleagues attempted quite a bit of access-fettering.

From attempts to limit mail-in ballots to threats to establish a last-minute, GOP-led “Select Commission on Election Integrity” to efforts to throw out the state’s presidential vote entirely and award its 20 Electoral votes to losing candidate Donald Trump, Republican lawmakers waged all-out war on Pennsylvania’s voters.

And that battle continues: A repeal of no-excuse mail-in ballots, which helped propel voter participation amid the pandemic last year, is among a number of GOP proposals aiming to restrict voting access and reduce turnout.

So, while we’d welcome a Keystone State All-Star Game (preferably in Citizens Bank Park; no offense, Pittsburgh), making the case that Pennsylvania is a voter-friendly alternative is a bit of a stretch.

Then again, MLB is in a bind: More than 360 restrictive voting bills have been proposed in 47 states; two of the three remaining, Delaware and Vermont, don’t have professional baseball teams, and the third, Ohio, already maintains strict Voter ID laws and routine voter-list purges.

It looks like the new national pastime — disenfranchising voters — is making it difficult to honor the traditional national pastime.