More Than a Vote, founded by LeBron James, donates to help ex-felons register to vote in Florida

LeBron James’ group More Than A Vote plans to donate $100,000 to help register Florida voters with felony records by paying their court debts and fees.

More Than A Vote said it will donate the money to the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition to help pay outstanding court debts of former felons so they can register to vote in the November election. The group was founded by James, but is comprised of many fellow Black athletes and entertainers.

Florida’s ex-felons unable to vote due to debts

The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition successfully worked in 2018 to have a state constitutional amendment passed that lifted Florida’s lifetime voting ban on those with felony convictions. Before the amendment, Florida had the highest number of disenfranchised felons in the U.S. The ruling gave voting rights back to an estimated 1.4 million people in the infamous battleground state.

But earlier this year the state’s Republican-led Legislature passed a law that requires those with felony convictions to first pay outstanding court debts and fees before they can register to vote. The Supreme Court upheld the voting law last week and did not explain its decision.

It has been likened to an unconstitutional poll tax and studies estimate about 775,000 people are now unable to vote in Florida.

More Than A Vote steps in to pay debts

LeBron James, in a purple shirt with sayings such as "inspire, equality, love, activate" prepares to catch a basketball.
LeBron James' More Than A Vote group is donating money to help Florida ex-felons vote. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The coalition has already raised $1.5 million for its “Amendment 4 Fines and Fees Campaign,” Politico reported. More Than A Vote will donate $100,000, per Politico, but the partnership will also bring attention to the cause.

Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem, a More Than A Vote member, said in a statement to Politico:

“Your right to vote shouldn’t depend upon whether or not you can pay to exercise it.”

More Than A Vote shared the Politico story announcing the donation with a series of graphics explaining the situation and statistics.

More Than a Vote is also offering an online screening of “John Lewis: Good Trouble.” The proceeds will go toward the fine and fees fund. Athletes honored Lewis after he died on Saturday at the age of 80.

James founded More Than A Vote in June after seeing reports of hours-long wait times at polling places in urban and minority neighborhoods in Atlanta. The 501(c)(4) nonprofit is focused on raising awareness of voter suppression and voting rights.

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