LeBron James and the More Than a Vote organization he helps lead partnered this year with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund to recruit poll workers, and the relationship has turned out to be fruitful.
The initiative, called “We Got Next,” has signed up 10,000 volunteer poll workers to work the polls in Black electoral districts for the Nov. 3 general election, according to a message sent by the Legal Defense Fund on Wednesday, Sept. 30.
“We marched. We demanded change. Now, we’re ensuring our voices are heard. 10,000 new poll workers,” the message read.
Later that night, many of those poll workers attended Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat virtually and joined people like former President Barack Obama, who thanked them for volunteering.
“I wanted to come on to give a shoutout to all the folks who are volunteering as poll workers in this upcoming election,” he said. “It can be a thankless job, it’s not one of those things you think about but it is absolutely vital for a democracy, and I appreciate you.”
More Than a Vote was started in May by James and other Black athletes and entertainers to fight voter suppression.
Its partnership with the Legal Defense Fund was announced last month, as well as the effort to recruit poll workers in Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Ohio, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania.
During the 2020 primary elections, some of those states, especially in predominantly Black neighborhoods, suffered major problems on voting day, including long lines and faulty voting machines. Several cities in those states also had a shortage of poll workers due to COVID-19.
The push to get young people to volunteer in November is to keep older adults from doing so, since they have a higher chance of becoming severely ill if catching the virus.
More Than a Vote and the Legal Defense Fund told The New York Times that a second round of recruiting poll workers will be rolled out in Jackson, Mississippi, Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama, as well as Houston and San Antonio in Texas.
Detroit, and Flint, Michigan, are also among the cities that will be targeted, as will Charlotte, Cleveland, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia.
Besides helping to recruit poll workers though More Than a Vote, James also worked with the Los Angeles Dodgers to turn Dodger Stadium into a voting location for five days leading up to November’s election.