LeBron James and the More Than a Vote nonprofit organization he headlines are looking to recruit young people to work the polls in Black electoral districts for November’s general election.
The organization has partnered with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund for the initiative, which will be rolled out in 12 states, beginning with Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Ohio, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania.
Some of those states, like Georgia, especially in predominantly Black neighborhoods, faced major challenges in June’s primaries, including long lines, issues with voting machines, and a shortage of poll workers.
Milwaukee, meanwhile, had just five polling locations available for its primaries, according to ABC News, compared to the 180 that are usually open when voters go to the polls. Wisconsin officials also said that 60 percent of the state’s voting sites had a shortage of poll workers, which was likely a result of COVID-19.
The New York Times reports that More Than A Vote will use paid advertising and corporate partnerships to motivate people to volunteer as poll workers, and the campaign will begin in the next few weeks.
The organization was started by Black athletes and entertainers shortly after George Floyd died in May. The group’s primary goal is to combat voter suppression “By educating, energizing, and protecting” the Black community, as described on their website.
It was announced earlier this month that James and More Than A Vote reached an agreement with the Los Angeles Dodgers to turn Dodger Stadium into a voting location for five days leading up to the general election. All registered voters will be able to vote at the stadium, where free parking will be provided.
The Los Angeles Lakers star spoke about November’s presidential election earlier this month at the NBA’s bubble location in Orlando, Florida, and explained why he’s helping the Black community with voting this year.
“A lot of people in our community, in the Black community … one, don’t want to vote because they don’t believe their vote counts two, don’t know where to go and vote,” he told reporters. “They are basically suppressed so much that they were like, ‘I’m not going anyways because it doesn’t even matter. ‘Cause no one cares about us, no one cares about our opinions, or cares about who we’d like to have in office.'”
Reportedly, More Than A Vote wants to recruit young people to work polling stations, instead of seniors, since seniors stand a higher risk of being severely affected by the coronavirus if they test positive for it.
News of the poll worker initiative came before NBA players ended a two-day boycott this week that was in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot seven times in the back by a police officer on Aug. 23 in Kenosha, Wisconsin,
Players have since met with league officials and agreed the playoffs will resume on Saturday, Aug. 29, at Disney World in Orlando. The move was decided once the league committed to enacting a number of new social justice initiatives, including working with NBA franchises to convert the arenas they control into voting locations.
“These commitments follow months of close collaboration around designing a safe and healthy environment to restart the NBA season, providing a platform to promote social justice, as well as creating an NBA Foundation focused on economic empowerment in the Black community,” read a joint statement released by National Basketball Players Association Executive Director Michele Roberts and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “We look forward to the resumption of the playoffs and continuing to work together — in Orlando and in all NBA team markets — to push for meaningful and sustainable change.”