After NBA players have been speaking out about racial justice — and even postponing some playoff games this week in protest — the Utah Jazz are trying to show that voting matters, too.
The team is providing its Vivint Smart Home Arena as an Election Day voting center for those who are unable to vote by mail — offering vast space for safe social distancing during the pandemic, the team announced Friday.
Also, three Megaplex theaters owned by Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment will serve as voting centers, the team said in an announcement with Salt Lake County.
The announcement came the same day that the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association jointly issued a plan to return to the league’s playoffs. It included a commitment by owners to allow — where possible — use of arenas “for a safe in-person voting option for communities vulnerable to COVID.”
“Our sports and entertainment venues are familiar community gathering places, and we are pleased to join with the Salt Lake County Election Division to provide four facilities as safe convenient and accessible voting locations on Election Day,” said Gail Miller, owner and chairperson of the Larry H. Miller Group of Cos.
“Exercising our right to vote allows us to share our voice and to act to preserve our rights and freedoms,” Miller said. “We hope the use of our facilities provides voters with greater poll access and that the voter experience meets the highest standards of safety, security and election integrity.”
The three theaters offered by the company for Election Day voting centers are the Megaplex Luxury Theatres at Cottonwood in Holladay, Megaplex Theatres at The District in South Jordan, and Megaplex Theatres at Jordan Commons in Sandy.
Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen praised the Jazz for making the arena and theaters available.
“It’s always been a struggle in the downtown areas,” she said, “to try and find something large to accommodate voters and have social distancing.”
Swensen still urges voters to cast ballots by mail if possible.
“We are providing in-person voting opportunities,” she said, “but we encourage people to use their vote-by-mail ballot.”
Swensen said Salt Lake County aims to have 60 in-person voting centers on Election Day, mostly to handle people who lost or did not receive by-mail ballots. “We want to make sure that for those individuals who do need to use those that we can do the social distancing.”
Vivint Arena and Megaplex theaters will comply with state and Salt Lake County guidelines governing public health and safety. Free parking will be available at Park Place adjacent to the arena.
The voter registration deadline is Oct. 23 in Utah. People may go to vote.utah.gov and select “Find My Voter Registration Information” to determine whether they are an active or inactive voter and update their information.
For the upcoming Nov. 3 election, voters have options, including casting their ballot by mail, putting them in special collection boxes offered by many counties, voting in person during an early voting period, or voting in person on Election Day. Active registered voters will receive a ballot in the mail.
The Larry H. Miller Group of Cos. said it has also enacted a policy that provides employees, who are scheduled to work on Election Day, paid time off to vote, in person, in both primary and general state and federal elections.