Bradley Beal works off the basketball court to inspire his generation to vote

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WASHINGTON (WDVM) — Professional sports teams across the country have been shifting time and energy from getting ready for playoffs to getting ready to vote. Many sports venues are turning into places to vote this election season. The Washington Wizards and Capital One Arena are no different.

“I don’t consider myself an activist, but I feel like I have a platform, and I’m going to use it to the best of my ability,” said Bradley Beal, a shooting guard for the Washington Wizards. Beal is 27 years old, and he says this will be the first presidential election he will vote in.

“I had a conversation with my parents, my grandparents who are still alive, and just understanding what they had to go through in order to have the right to vote, in order to have that privilege for their voice to be heard. For me, I clearly took advantage of that for eight to ten years.”

Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
FILE (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)

“I always feel like anything is possible as long as you put your mind to it,” Beal said when asked how he found time and passion to engage in politics and learn more about the voting process.

“It was kind of something, once I turned 18, every year it was kind of like a tug and war type. Like, do I want to vote? I have the ability to, but does it make a difference? I feel like that’s kind of my generation, my age, like a lot of us feel like that. It really just got to a point to where, it’s like OK, well I’m coming up on 30. I want to vote, for one, I want to be able to exercise that right,” said Beal.

“My grandma only had a select few times to vote, so that put a lot of things into perspective for me and just realizing that, I have this platform, I have this opportunity to make a difference,” added Beal. “Don’t just be up here to blow smoke if you’re gonna stand here and speak on voting, you have to be out there doing the work, too.”

Beal says he will join several other professional athletes at Capital One Arena this election season, encouraging District residents to use the space to vote, register to vote, and to learn more about the election process. Monumental Sports and Entertainment, owner of the Wizards, Mystics, and Capitals, has partnered with the DC Board of Elections this year.

“For us, this is our Super Bowl,” said Board of Elections Chairman Michael Bennett. “The Board of Elections in DC is laser focused on making sure that we have a safe and effective voting process and voting experience during this election.”

Bennett says the Board of Elections is expecting “record-shattering turnout” this election season. Paired with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board of Elections is thinking of new ways to keep voters safe while offering new and large spaces for District residents to cast their votes.

Capital One Arena will be a “Super Vote Center.” That means 20 voting machines will be placed in the arena, as well as options to vote by hand for voters if they choose.

“Things will move very, very quickly,” said Bennett, although he didn’t rule out long lines on Election Day. You can also register to vote and drop off your filled-out ballot that the Board of Elections is mailing to registered voters in the District at Capital One Arena starting at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, October 27.

The Board of Elections estimates 4,000 poll workers are needed this election season. If you are interested in becoming a poll worker, click here to learn more.

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