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Lebron James Founds Nonprofit Organization To Help Former Felons Looking To Vote

Days after the U.S. Supreme Court left in place a lower court order that could prevent hundreds of thousands of people with felony convictions in Florida from voting in the November election, NBA superstar LeBron James announced plans to donate $100,00 to help remove the voting roadblocks.

The donation, from James’ new More Than A Vote organization comes as voter turnout is shaping up to be a major issue in the November election, drawing celebrities, and Black Lives Matter activists to the disenfranchisement cause.

More Than A Vote, said it plans to make the donation to the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, one of the main organizations behind a 2018 ballot measure that restored the right to vote to ex-felons, who were later denied the vote if they had any fines or court costs unpaid, according to ABC News.

More Than A Vote describes itself as a group of Black athletes and artists working to combat “systemic, racist voter suppression by educating, energizing, and protecting our community in 2020.”

The donation comes after the Supreme Court declined to intervene in a case challenging what critics call Florida’s “pay to play,” law, that for some brought to mind the infamous “poll tax” of the Jim Crow south.

In Iowa — the only state in the nation with a lifetime ban on voting after a felony conviction — Black Lives Matter activists are pressing Gov. Kim Reynolds to sign an executive order granting felons that have served their sentence the right to vote, according to the Des Moines Register.

Iowa’s lifetime ban applies unless the former felon applies individually to the governor’s office to have their rights restored, and experts say more than 60,000 Iowans, including nearly one in 10 African American adults, are barred from voting in the state due to a prior felony conviction, according to the Register and ACLU-Iowa.

Stacey Abrams, often cited as a potential running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, made addressing voter suppression her personal mission after she lost the 2018 governor’s race to Republican Brian Kemp, as critics complained about his massive purge of Black and brown voters from the rolls.

The issues of felon disenfranchisement has been a major focus of activists since the 2000 presidential election, when razor thin margins in Florida determined the outcome of the election. Some advocacy groups have said felon disenfranchisement kept a large enough group of minority citizens from voting that it most likely impacted the outcome of the election, according to Fair Vote.

 

 

By Karen Robinson-Jacobs

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