Tuesday is National Voter Registration Day, and in another time it might have passed without much fanfare in the sports world.
But on Tuesday, the Timberwolves and Lynx will be out registering voters as part of the organizations’ Pack the Vote initiative, which aims to get as many people as possible registered online or in person, specifically around the Twin Cities.
Tuesday’s event will be in Minneapolis and will be one of three in-person events the Wolves and Lynx will hold Tuesday, Friday and Oct. 6. The teams are not publicizing the locations of the events ahead of time out of safety concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic, but they will focus on areas that traditionally have had low voter turnout. The events will include food distribution in areas where food insecurity is high, CEO Ethan Casson said.
“You’ve got opportunity for people to come by, pick up these meal kits and at the same time we’ll be there talking about the importance of registration,” Casson said.
Other NBA teams will use their arenas as polling places, and the league committed to having every team attempt to do so in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man shot by police in Kenosha, Wis. But the city of Minneapolis owns Target Center, and a city spokesperson said last month there are no plans to use Target Center as a polling place.
So the Wolves and Lynx instead turned their focus to registering people to vote, Casson said.
“It’s just a slight pivot from really being a place that congregates voting to taking it maybe a step prior to that, which is really the importance of being registered, the education associated with that and trying to inspire the civic engagement in those particular communities,” Casson said.
The Wolves and Lynx have also made Election Day, Nov. 3., a company holiday.
Other local teams are encouraging voter registration or helping in the voting process in different ways.
Earlier this month, the Vikings announced they would donate a portion of a $1 million commitment for use in voter education and registration and pledged to post player-led voter education content on their website. They have posted links telling fans where to register to vote and are working toward the goal of having 100% of the organization registered to vote.
Minnesota United has worked to help make its St. Paul home, Allianz Field, a primary drop-off site for ballots in Ramsey County.
The Twins have posted links to voter registration information on their website in addition to key dates in the voting process.