Kings and Sacramento County team up to make Golden 1 Center a polling place for November election
Sacramento County voters who want to cast their ballots in person while staying safe from COVID-19 will have a well-known option for the November election.
The Sacramento Kings and the county elections office announced Friday that the Golden 1 Center will serve as a voting center from Oct. 24 to Nov. 3. The 779,000-square-foot arena downtown, the county’s largest voting location ever, will allow for plenty of distance between voters.
“Access to a large, state of the art facility such as Golden 1 Center helps us ensure accessibility and proper social distancing, while also providing our residents the voting services they need,” Sacramento County Registrar of Voters Courtney Bailey said in a statement.
Mayor Darrell Steinberg also praised the Kings’ move, tweeting: “Fantastic use of one of the great civic assets in our community.”
While Golden 1 is the first professional sports arena in California to sign on as a polling place, other arenas around the nation, including in Atlanta, are also on board.
The Kings are providing the arena at no charge and will also offer free parking for voters at the Downtown West Garage. The team is also providing poll workers at the arena, which will follow all public health recommendations, including disinfecting shared spaces and face coverings for all election officials.
Bigger vote centers, combined with expanded mail-in balloting, are essential for a safe election in November, when the coronavirus pandemic may be hitting an even more dangerous second wave.
Still, safety for voters is becoming a big political issue heading into the most important presidential election in decades.
Long lines and crowded polling places during primaries in some states raised alarms with public health officials. After 400,000 people voted April 7 in Wisconsin, studies have been mixed on whether that caused a spike in cases, though the state says at least 70 people contracted COVID-19 after voting or working at polling places.
Democrats and voting rights advocates are accusing Republican leaders of limiting voting sites to suppress the vote. President Trump has been railing constantly against mail-in ballots, including California’s plans to send them to every registered voter this fall.
While there’s no proof for Trump’s complaints about widespread fraud, there have been problems. In California’s March primary, 102,428 mail-in ballots were disqualified, about 1.5% of the total 7 million mail-in ballots returned, the Associated Press reported this week. About 70,000 ballots missed the deadline to be postmarked on or before Election Day and to arrive within three days afterward. Another 27,500, didn’t have a signature, or the signature didn’t match the one on record, the AP found.
Sacramento County was one of the first in the state to mail ballots to all registered voters. In May, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to mail ballots to all voters statewide, but the state GOP filed a lawsuit to stop it. Then, the Democratic-controlled Legislature passed a similar bill, and Newsom signed it.
The Kings are also working with the California Secretary of State’s office on voter education and poll worker recruitment and also plan to relaunch a nonpartisan coalition with other pro sports teams to increase voter turnout in November.
“The Kings are dedicated to using our platform to encourage civic participation and engagement,” the team’s Chief Operating Officer Matina Kolokotronis said in a statement. “We are proud to provide a location in the heart of downtown with increased accessibility and opportunity to socially distance while promoting the importance of voting.”