Gov. Abbott declines to throw first pitch at Rangers' game over MLB's stance on voting restrictions

ARLINGTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Major League Baseball seems to be striking out with Gov. Greg Abbott.

Abbott said he is declining his invitation to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Rangers' home opener Monday night due to the league's "false narrative on voter integrity laws."

Last week, the MLB yanked the All-Star Game and draft from Georgia over that state's new law restricting voting rights.

MLB had awarded the game to Atlanta in May 2019 and the game was scheduled for July 13 as part of baseball's midsummer break that includes the Futures Game on July 11 and Home Run Derby the following night.

The league's announcement came eight days after Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a sweeping Republican-sponsored overhaul of state elections that includes new restrictions on voting by mail and greater legislative control over how elections are run.

Commissioner Rob Manfred said the decision to pull the events was made after discussions with the Major League Baseball Players Association, individual players and the Players Alliance, an organization of Black players formed after the death of George Floyd last year.

You can find more on the MLB's decision and read Manfred's full statement by following this link.

Abbott sent a letter on Monday to the Rangers baseball organization saying that he will no longer participate in any event held by MLB, and that "the State of Texas will not seek to host the All-Star game or any other MLB special events."

Abbott said of his first pitch outing:

"I was looking forward to it -- until Major League Baseball adopted what has turned out to be a false narrative about the election law reforms in Georgia, and, based on that false narrative, moved the MLB All-Star game from Atlanta. It is shameful that America's pastime is not only being influenced by partisan political politics, but also perpetuating false political narratives. This decision does not diminish the deep respect I have for the Texas Rangers baseball organization, which is outstanding from top to bottom."

The state of Texas is taking a look at its own voting laws.

In the early morning hours last Thursday, Texas Republicans advanced a slate of proposed new voting restrictions that would reduce options to cast ballots, limit polling hours and hand more power to partisan poll watchers.

One measure would eliminate drive-thru voting, which more than 127,000 people around Houston used during early voting last year. More than half of those voters were Black, Latino or Asian, said Democratic state Sen. Carol Alvarado.

Voting rights groups have said the measures would disproportionately impact racial and ethnic minority voters.

At least two major corporations in Texas, American Airlines and Dell Technologies, have been among the first to voice opposition to the proposed legislation limiting voting access.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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