Pro sports teams want their fans to vote, and not just for the silly stuff

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There’s nobody better at getting people to vote than professional sports teams. They run campaigns around All-Star teams, mascots, new concession items, you name it.

So why not put that muscle behind something that really matters?

Troubled by the low percentage of Americans who exercise their most fundamental right, Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive set out to do something about it. He contacted a few friends who also own sports teams in the NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball, and together they launched Rally the Vote, a nonpartisan effort to get fans to register.

“I’m an immigrant, so I’ve always had special appreciation for the democracy and the amazing country that is the United States,” Ranadive told USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday. “As a sports team owner, I recognize that it’s a huge privilege to own a team, but it’s also a responsibility. We have this huge platform when we become owners.

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“You can push a button on your phone now and get anything,” he added. “Let’s make democracy as accessible and frictionless. We have an opportunity as sports teams and sports teams’ owners to really make that happen in a way that’s unique.”

Beginning Tuesday, the nine teams involved in Rally the Vote – Ranadive’s Kings, the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks; the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants of MLB; and the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers – are using their mobile apps and social media accounts to encourage fans to register to vote and then vote.

The teams are also providing a link to TurboVote, which will allow fans to register to vote, file for absentee ballots and get reminders about upcoming local and national elections. And Sacramento rookie Marvin Bagley III filmed a PSA encouraging fans to vote, which the Kings will show before games ahead of the Oct. 22 deadline to register in California.

The program was launched Tuesday to coincide with National Voter Registration Day.

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