(Reuters) - A group of athletes led by NBA star LeBron James will roll out a multimillion-dollar program in the next few weeks to recruit poll workers in heavily Black electoral districts for November's election, a person familiar with the plans said on Monday.
More Than a Vote, a group of prominent athletes fighting voter suppression, will collaborate with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund on the program in a dozen states, including battlegrounds such as Georgia, Michigan, Florida and Wisconsin, where disenfranchisement affects Black voters, the source said.
The New York Times first reported the effort, which will recruit young people as poll workers and include a paid advertising program and corporate partnership to encourage employees to volunteer as poll workers.
A shortage of poll workers to staff in-person voting sites amid worries about the coronavirus pandemic has led to dramatically fewer polling locations in some states that held primaries earlier this year, including Georgia and Wisconsin. That led to long lines, hours-long waits and widespread confusion, particularly in hard-hit African-American communities that felt the brunt of the cutbacks.
The problems, and worries about what they could mean for the Nov. 3 election between Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden, led to the formation of More Than a Vote by James, star of the Los Angeles Lakers, and other athletes.
The program will begin in Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina and Texas, the source said.
The group previously partnered with teams in Los Angeles and Atlanta to turn stadiums into polling places, and worked on an effort to help the formerly incarcerated restore their voting rights in Florida.
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt and John Whitesides; Editing by Leslie Adler)