NBA Superstar Raises Profile of Effort to Help Felons Vote

LeBron James' group donates $100K to help with Florida registration requirement
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 24, 2020 4:10 PM CDT
NBA Superstar Raises Profile of Effort to Help Felons Vote
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James before a game in January.   (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

A group cofounded by LeBron James is adding $100,000 and its high profile to the effort to help Florida felons vote in the November election. More Than a Vote, which was started by the NBA superstar after the death of George Floyd, said the money will go toward paying court debts and fees owed by people with felony records, so they can register to vote. "Your right to vote shouldn’t depend upon whether or not you can pay to exercise it," said Udonis Haslem, who plays for the Miami Heat and belongs to More Than a Vote. The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, which helped win the removal of the state's lifetime ban on voting by people convicted of felonies and who are not in prison, will handle the money, Politico reports.

Until the state constitution was changed, Florida had more disenfranchised felons than any other state, per Yahoo Sports. But the state Legislature, which has a Republican majority, passed a measure this year requiring that any court debts be paid before the prospective voter can register. An effort to have the law thrown out by the US Supreme Court failed last week, after a federal judge had called it a "pay-to-vote system." An appeals court now is to hold a hearing on the issue on the day of Florida's primary, Aug. 18. Up to 775,000 Floridians are being kept from voting by the new law, a study estimated. The coalition has raised more than $1.5 million for its campaign. (The Supreme Court voted 6-3 against deciding the issue.)

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