LeBron James joins push to turn out ex-felon vote in Florida

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LeBron James appears during a February NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco. | AP Photo

LeBron James appears during a February NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco. | (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

TALLAHASSEE — A group founded by NBA superstar LeBron James and other Black athletes and entertainers is stepping into the fight to register Florida voters with felony records, saying it will help pay court debts and fees so they can cast ballots in the November presidential election.

More Than A Vote, a group established by James and others in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, on Friday said it will donate $100,000 to help pay outstanding court debts of ex-felons so they can register to vote. The money will go to the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, which in 2018 successfully pushed to a constitutional amendment that lifted Florida’s lifetime voting ban on people with felony convictions. After the amendment passed, the Republican-led state Legislature earlier this year raised the bar for felons to vote, passing a law that is being challenged in federal court.

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“Your right to vote shouldn’t depend upon whether or not you can pay to exercise it,” Miami Heat forward and More than a Vote member Udonis Haslem said in a written statement.

The partnership will help ensure that “formerly incarcerated American citizens — many of them Black and brown — are able to pay their outstanding fines and fees and register to vote in the 2020 election and beyond.”

The coalition already has raised more than $1.5 million

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