Jul
30
LeBron James' voting rights group donating $100,000 to pay fines and fees so ex-felons can vote in Florida

By Jack Maloney via CBS Sports


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As a renewed social justice movement swept the country earlier this year, athletes from all sports felt inspired to do their part to bring about change. Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James was no different, and his big push was staring a voting rights group called More Than A Vote.

Draymond Green, Trae Young, Jalen Rose and Skylar Diggins-Smith are all a part of the group, which is aiming to combat voter suppression. To that end, they announced on Friday that they'll be partnering with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition and donating $100,000 to help pay fines and fees so ex-felons are able to vote in Florida.

"Your right to vote shouldn't depend upon whether or not you can pay to exercise it," Miami Heat veteran Udonis Haslem, who is also involved, said in a statement.

In 2018, voters in Florida approved an amendment that would restore voting eligibility for certain ex-felons who committed non-violent crimes. However, that amendment said they would only be able to vote once "they complete all terms of their sentence." Florida Governor Ron DeSantis responded by passing a new law requiring all fees and fines related to their conviction and court appearances to be paid before their sentence would officially be viewed as complete.

That controversial law has been fought by many voting rights organizations, who view it as a poll tax, and it was declared unconstitutional by a federal court in Florida earlier this year. That ruling was then appealed by the state. Last week the Supreme Court upheld the state's right to an appeal, which means the ruling by the federal court is yet to go into effect.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her dissenting opinion that the ruling, "continues a trend of condoning disenfranchisement."

With the ruling still in place, and ex-felons needing to pay off all fines and fees before they can vote in the presidential election this November, the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition is setting up a fund to help those who don't have the money. That is where the $100,000 from LeBron James' group will go.

Earlier this month, LeBron decided he would wear his name on the back of his jersey inside the Disney World bubble when games resume, rather than choosing one of the league approved slogans. His reasoning was that the options which were given to players, "didn't seriously resonate with my mission, with my goal."

As he showed on Friday with this effort, his goal is much bigger than slogans on the back of jerseys.