Major League Soccer, Black Players for Change and MLS Players Association Team Up to Launch MLS Unites to Vote
NEW YORK, N.Y. (Thursday, September 17, 2020) – Major League Soccer, Black Players for Change (BPC), and the MLS Players Association (MLSPA) today launched MLS Unites to Vote, a League-wide, non-partisan initiative to help players, staff and fans register to vote and participate in this year’s election.
Kicking off in advance of National Black Voter Day (Friday, Sept. 18) and National Voter Registration Day (Tuesday, Sept. 22), MLS Unites to Vote will leverage enterprise-wide platforms to educate our community on the voting process, drive voter registration, encourage volunteerism on election day, and showcase the efforts of MLS clubs and players.
In addition, MLS front office and U.S.-based club facilities will be closed on Election Day (Tuesday, November 3), to ensure that everyone in the MLS community can exercise their right to vote and serve their community as a poll worker or nonpartisan election volunteer.
“Participation in local and national elections is one of the most important responsibilities we have as citizens. Major League Soccer and our players recognize the opportunity we have to leverage our platform to amplify the importance of voting,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “We hope to inspire MLS fans and the entire soccer community to educate themselves about the voting process, register to vote, and vote on Election Day.”
MLS is teaming up with Power the Polls, a first-of-its-kind, nonpartisan initiative of businesses and nonprofits working to recruit a new generation of young, diverse poll workers to help ensure a safe and secure election this November. MLS will also become a member of the Civic Alliance, a nonpartisan network of more than 200 companies working together to encourage voter participation.
“We’re proud to partner with Major League Soccer and so grateful to the soccer community that is stepping up to help ensure the upcoming election is safe, fair, and accessible for all,” said Scott Duncombe, co-director of Power the Polls. “With less than 50 days to the November in-person election, addressing the poll worker shortage is more urgent than ever. The shortage threatens our democracy, puts our older population at risk, and disproportionately affects low-income communities and communities of color. Power the Polls is committed to working to sign up enough poll workers and volunteers to keep polling sites open, staffed, efficient, and functioning. Thank you, Major League Soccer for joining us in this effort.”
“Major League Soccer is strengthening our democracy by empowering their players and fans with tools to register to vote and participate in this year’s election,” said Steven Levine, Civic Alliance Director. “By standing up as strong champions for nonpartisan civic participation, professional sports leagues, teams and players are helping to create a future where voting is celebrated and all Americans make their voices heard. We salute Major League Soccer for joining the Civic Alliance and helping to lead this movement.”
The Black Players for Change have identified voter registration as a major point of emphasis as part of their continued efforts to foster change. In partnership with the MLSPA, BPC has mobilized the entire MLS player pool around voter registration, focusing on a player’s civic duty, not preferred candidates, political parties or platforms.
For more information on BPC’s voter initiatives please visit blackplayersforchange.org.
Below is a sampling of how the MLS community is uniting to educate, elevate and activate the soccer community around voting.
MLS is focused on providing resources and programming that draws awareness to the voting process, emphasizes the importance of voting and explains the process to register. This information will be readily available as part of a centralized online hub and will contain a resource guide on registration, key dates, content about club and player activations, and links to registration and voting resources and organizations for fans.
Using the League’s platform to amplify voter registration messages, MLS will elevate our soccer community posts on social media, club programing and content that highlights the importance of voting and encourages people to engage in the election process.
MLS has partnered with Power the Polls to engage in mobilizing young citizens to sign up as poll workers. In partnership with the Civic Alliance, MLS fans will also be encouraged to text VOTER to 26797 to register to vote, sign-up for elections reminders, and request a mail-in ballot. In addition, MLS clubs are executing community-based voting related projects with the objective to register American voters among the MLS fan base.
A sampling of club initiatives, with more to be featured on League and club social platforms.
- Atlanta United – Atlanta United launched United We Vote with a focus on voter education, registration and participation in the 2020 general election. The Club is also sharing the importance of voting through authentic storytelling and first-person experiences and a newly-formed partnership with Rock the Vote. Additionally, Atlanta will have all 11 eligible players registered to vote by Sept. 22.
- Columbus Crew SC: Crew SC will host a resource hub on the Club’s website linking to VoteOhio.gov and will hold a social media campaign on September 22, Voter Registration Day, as well as create content with U.S. players to encourage fans to vote. Additionally, Crew SC will include voter messaging on video boards and make PA announcements during home matches to encourage fans to register and vote.
- Houston Dynamo – The Dynamo teamed up with Rally the Vote and are working closely with the City of Houston and Harris County to raise awareness about voter registration through public service announcements and ongoing club digital support.
- Los Angeles Football Club – Banc of California Stadium became the first athletic facility in Los Angles to become a registered polling location for the general election, and the Club has joined forces with Rally The Vote, a coalition of sports teams throughout the U.S. with the goal of increasing voter registration. LAFC has created a voter education hub on its website, and continues to work closely with the office of the California Secretary of State, Los Angeles County Registrar, and different organizations such as When We All Vote, More Than A Vote, and Reclaim Our Vote. Additionally, LAFC is working with Los Angeles County to help recruit volunteer poll workers and is encouraging Club staff to serve as poll workers.
- Minnesota United FC – Allianz Field will be used as the main ballet drop-off location for all of Ramsey County, the second-largest county in Minnesota for the general election. Additionally, Minnesota United FC is creating a multi-language PSA to target the diverse communities in Minnesota as well as partnering with the State of Minnesota and other teams in market on a collective Minnesota Teams Vote PSA.
- New York City Football Club – POWER the Vote, the Club’s new youth-led voting campaign, was created as a result of a difficult, but necessary, conversation within the NYCFC-supported Youth Leadership Council around social injustices across local communities and the nation. The non-partisan campaign includes a virtual City Hall series that educates youth about their civic duty, a National Voter Registration Day pop-up on the New York City Soccer Initiative blue mini-soccer pitches, and a partnership with Rally the Vote led by the Sacramento Kings. In addition to encouraging fans and young people to engage civically, NYCFC is taking steps to make it easier for players, staff, and employees to vote by giving paid-time off on November 3 in partnership with Vote.org and 700+ companies and teams across the U.S. making the commitment.
- New York Red Bulls: New York Red Bulls employees are creating Voter Education Kits as one of the club’s 11 Days of Service initiatives. The kits help educate communities on the local voting process by creating easy to understand materials, including how to register, descriptions of local issues or referendums, definitions and descriptions of public offices up for election, and a sample ballot. The kits will be delivered digitally to an organization in the Newark Community. The Club is also launching an awareness campaign with voter registration information and deadlines for both New York and New Jersey, and is working to get all front office employees, as well as gameday and part-time staff, registered to vote.
- Philadelphia Union: Philadelphia Union are creating a unique digital experience to encourage voter registration and provide information about key upcoming dates for Pennsylvanians that need to register to vote and request mail-in ballots. Across Union social channels, fans will have the opportunity to play short trivia games for prizes and the trivia will be presented by Union players via short videos and focus on important information voters need.
- Portland Timbers – The Portland Timbers and Thorns FC have partnered with Rally The Vote, a coalition of sports teams throughout the U.S. with the goal of increasing voter registration. As part of the overall messaging campaign across their platforms, the organization is also creating a special “Vote” tee for both teams.
- San Jose Earthquakes – The San Jose Earthquakes have linked up with Rally The Vote, a coalition of sports teams throughout the U.S. with the goal of increasing voter registration. The Earthquakes organization is also making Election Day (November 3) a company holiday to ensure staff are able to vote, with additional incentives given to those who work the polls.
- Seattle Sounders FC – Sounders FC is putting together a coordinated campaign to increase awareness surrounding both voting and filling out the census. The club has solidified partnerships with external local and statewide partners that it will collaborate with now and into odd-year elections, including Seattle Unite, the Washington Office of the Secretary of State, King County Elections and United Way of King County. Sounders FC will work with these partners, leaning on them for expertise in their areas while also utilizing the club’s platform for additional reach on these crucial topics. Fans can visit SoundersFC.com/Vote to find links to complete their census, register to vote and sign up for election reminders. Additionally, when tuning in to cheer on the Rave Green during upcoming home matches, fans will notice a special message on tarps in the stadium stands, used as a safety measure to ensure distancing from the field by any essential matchday staff or media members. The tarps will include a “Vote/Vota” design created by local artist, activist and app-developer, Teddy “Stat” Phillips. CenturyLink Field will continue to serve as an official Vote Center for King County, with residents able to register to vote, cast their ballot, drop off mail-in ballots and receive other election-related assistance.
For more information on “MLS Unites to Vote,” visit MLSsoccer.com/Vote.
About Major League Soccer
Headquartered in New York City, Major League Soccer – celebrating its 25th Season in 2020 – features 26 clubs throughout the United States and Canada, in addition to future expansion teams in Austin, St. Louis, Sacramento, and Charlotte. For more information about MLS, visit www.MLSsoccer.com.
Black Players for Change (BPC) is an organization consisting of over 100+ players, coaches and staff of MLS, working to bridge the racial equality gap that exists in society. BPC is committed to tackling the racial injustices that have limited Black people from having an equitable stake in the game of soccer and society. Among the many goals the organization strives to advance the attention on human right inequalities from protest to programs, partnerships and policies that address systemic racism. For more information visit www.BlackPlayersForChange.org or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.
The Major League Soccer Players Association (MLSPA) serves as the voice and collective bargaining representative for all former, current and future Major League Soccer players. Formed in April 2003, the MLSPA ensures protection of the rights of all MLS players, while also promoting their best interests and amplifying their voices. The MLSPA is a democratic organization run by and for players, and ultimate control over the MLSPA rests with the players. To learn more please visit www.mlsplayers.org.
About Power the Polls
Power the Polls is a first-of-its-kind initiative to recruit poll workers to ensure a safe, fair election for all voters. Amidst a nationwide poll worker shortage and fewer than 100 days to sign up as many as 250,000 new workers nationally, Power the Polls is part of the solution through education, recruitment, and business engagement. Power the Polls was launched in June 2020 by a coalition of businesses and nonprofits, including Civic Alliance, Center for Secure and Modern Elections, Comedy Central, Fair Elections Center, Levi Strauss & Co, MTV, Patagonia, Pizza to the Polls, Time To Vote, Uber, and We Can Vote. The website utilizes data from Work Elections, a unique website developed by Fair Elections Center that centralizes information on poll worker requirements and links to applications for over 4,000 election jurisdictions around the country. For more information for voters, organizations and businesses looking to participate, visit www.powerthepolls.org.
About the Civic Alliance
The Civic Alliance is a nonpartisan business coalition that strengthens our democracy by supporting safe, trusted, and accessible elections and inspiring every American to participate in shaping our country’s future. Founded by the CAA Foundation and Democracy Works, the Civic Alliance has cultivated a community of more than 200 companies united by a shared belief that an active democracy is good for business and an engaged business community is good for democracy. With its valuable tools, resources, events, and partnership opportunities, the Civic Alliance helps its member companies engage their employees and consumers as active participants in civic life. Join us at civicalliance.com.