The NBA announced Tuesday that it won’t host any basketball games this upcoming Election Day to encourage voter turnout.
“The scheduling decision came out of the NBA family’s focus on promoting nonpartisan civic engagement and encouraging fans to make a plan to vote during midterm elections,” the league said in a tweet.
This year’s midterm election, which historically has a much lower turnout than presidential ones, is scheduled for Nov. 8.
All 30 teams in the NBA will play games the day before the election where they will encourage attendees and viewers to vote.
The NBA has regularly held games on past midterm election days, including four in 2018, six in 2016 and eight in 2014.
James Cadogan, the executive director of the NBA’s Social Justice Coalition, said in an interview with MSNBC on Tuesday that this is a rare move for the league.
The NBA today announced that no games will be played on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.
The scheduling decision came out of the NBA family’s focus on promoting nonpartisan civic engagement and encouraging fans to make a plan to vote during midterm elections. https://t.co/nFiEHlws0Q
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) August 16, 2022
“It’s unusual. We don’t usually change the schedule for an external event, but voting and Election Day are obviously unique and very important to our democracy,” Cadogan said.
While most states offer relatively easy access to early and absentee voting by mail, a handful limit most citizens to voting in person, the day of ― a policy that voting rights groups have found makes it disproportionately difficult for low-income voters, people of color and other historically oppressed demographics to cast their ballots. Yet, lawmakers around the country continue to introduce bills making it harder for people to vote, with many citing baseless voter fraud conspiracy theories.
NBA players have grown active in the voting rights movement in light of those legislative efforts. LeBron James, the four-time NBA champion, assembled a group of Black athletes and celebrities in 2020 for his More Than A Vote initiative to fight voter suppression laws and educate Black voters on the barriers they face because of them.
“We’re going to give you the background of how to vote,” he said at the time, “and what they’re trying to do, the other side, to stop you from voting.”
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.