By Zac Cornell
LeBron James’ More Than a Vote initiative to recruit poll workers to Black electoral districts has been an extraordinary success. The “We Got Next” campaign that the group launched in collaboration with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund has recruited 10,000 volunteers over two weeks!
James has become the leading voice in the NBA for encouraging people to vote in the upcoming election. His More Than a Vote organization has increased voter registration and has run voting drives to inspire the Black community to vote and have their voices be heard. James has enlisted fellow athletes including NBA players Damian Lillard, Draymond Green, Trae Young, Ben Simmons, C.J. McCollum, Jaylen Brown, Mo Bamba, Kyle Lowry, Udonis Haslem, and Eric Bledsoe, and WNBA players Chiney Ogwumike and Skylar Diggins to help the cause.
Recruiting poll volunteers is crucial as many Black communities have historically faced a shortage of polling locations, leading to longer wait times to cast votes and accusations of voter suppression. Increasing the number of poll workers will help facilitate voting in these communities and encourage Black voters to cast their ballots.
James was quoted in USA Today saying, “Black people in the community don’t believe that their vote matters.” He explains, “We grow up and don’t think that our vote actually matters. It doesn’t. We’ve seen recounts before. We’ve seen our voices be muted our whole lives.”
The initiative is ongoing and will now focus on specific cities with heavy Black populations that still face shortages of poll workers including Birmingham, Jackson, Houston, San Antonio, Montgomery, Charlotte, Cleveland, Detroit, Flint, Milwaukee and Philadelphia. The poll workers will receive a flat daily pay with some cities offering hazard pay. In addition to training, poll workers will also receive PPE kits including a mask, disposable gloves, hand sanitizer, and voter information cards.
The entire NBA community has been vocal and active in encouraging their players and fans to register to vote, and opening up practice facilities and arenas for polling locations. It is imperative that every American citizen 18 years and older has the ability to vote and know that their voice is being heard.