Daily Times (Primos, PA)

Augusta National plays through debate over Ga. voting law

- By Paul Newberry

AUGUSTA, GA. » While a tempest brews outside Magnolia Lane over Georgia’s voting rights law, Augusta National would prefer to keep the focus on blooming azaleas, pimento cheese sandwiches and tricky greens.

That strategy has served the home of the Masters well in previous debates over efforts to keep out Black and female members.

So, it was no surprise when Chairman Fred Ridley played through any attempt Wednesday to ensnare his club in another contentiou­s issue.

“We realize that views and opinions on this law differ, and there have been calls for boycotts and other punitive measures,” Ridley said during his annual State of the Masters news conference on the eve of the opening round. “Unfortunat­ely, those actions often impose the greatest burdens on the most vulnerable in our society.”

There was never any doubt Augusta National would take a different path than Major League Baseball, which yanked this summer’s All-Star Game from Atlanta to show its displeasur­e with new voting restrictio­ns that were signed into law two weeks ago by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.

Opponents say the law is designed to reduce the electoral power of people of color after a record turnout last November, fueled by absentee and early voting.

Supporters of the law, including Kemp, have said it’s nothing more than an attempt to preserve electoral integrity on the heels of baseless claims by Donald Trump that the presidency was stolen from him by fraudulent votes.

“I believe, as does everyone in our organizati­on, that the right to vote is fundamenta­l in our democratic society,” Ridley said. “No one should be disadvanta­ged in exercising that right, and it is critical that all citizens have confidence in the electoral process.”

When asked bluntly if he supported or opposed the new law, Ridley laid up.

“I don’t think that my opinion on this legislatio­n should shape the discussion,” he said. “I know you would like for us to make a proclamati­on on this. I just don’t think that is going to be helpful to ultimately reaching a resolution.”

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