NBA superstar LeBron James is launching a multimillion-dollar campaign to fortify the number of poll workers in vulnerable Black communities.
James’ voting rights organization, More Than A Vote, will bring together star athletes, state election officials, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund to draft young activists to work at polling locations for the 2020 general election. The campaign will focus on the southern and battleground states of Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, and Texas.
“There are a lot of people who grew up in the inner city who are afraid to vote,” James, the star of the Los Angeles Lakers, told reporters last week while wearing a “More Than a Vote” T-shirt inside the NBA’s quarantined campus in Orlando, Florida. “We’re giving everyone the tools, outlets.”
Some of the states picked by James and the NAACP were states who had chaotic primaries. Wisconsin had issues when Gov. Tony Evers tried to block an election from happening and the State Supreme Court allowed the election to go forward. That led to long lines, a shortage of poll workers, and people literally risking their lives to vote.
Georgia had many of the same issues. Hours-long lines were compounded by problems with voting equipment and poll worker shortages, particularly in Atlanta’s populous Fulton County.
The campaign seeks to confront the shortage of election volunteers, especially when it comes to communities of color. Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, is home to 69.4% of the state’s Black American population, according to the most recent data cited by the state’s Department of Health Services.
More Than A Vote is also working on expanding polling locations to sports arenas. A model that was used in Kentucky’s primary elections in June with relative success. So fa,r More Than a Vote has joined forces with sports teams in Atlanta, Cleveland, Charlotte, Detroit, Los Angeles, and Sacramento.
Athletes who have joined James’ effort include NBA/WNBA players Brittney Griner, CJ McCollum, and Damien Lillard. MLB players include former Yankee CC Sabathia, David Price, and Jason Heyward. James’ effort also includes entertainers and celebrities Kevin Hart, Bun B, and Toni Braxton.