LeBron James is not going to just “shut up and dribble.” He’s proven that repeatedly; in fact, a lot of people refer to the self-described “King James” as a full-time social activist who plays basketball in his spare time.
The NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers star who launched “More Than a Vote” in June and has a well-chronicled disdain for President Trump teamed with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as part of a coalition to pay fines for felons in Florida and enable them to regain their right to vote.
A Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald and ProPublica project reports thousands of felons may have had their fines paid, and, assuming that they do not also have other unpaid fees that would bar them from voting, they could be eligible to vote. Donor contributions from the coalition were expected to pay about $27 million in fines and fees for about 40,000 felons, perhaps creating about 12,800 eligible voters if the proportion is consistent.
“We want communities to get better by having more voices heard, and the quicker people are able to be reintegrated into the community, the better,” said Neil Volz, deputy director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition in the report. “If people choose to engage in that moment or not, that’s on them.”
The Tampa Bay Times says the effort would appear to help Democrats, reporting that, in the four counties affected, “at least 80 percent of felons whose fines and fees were paid are nonwhite — including 74 percent who are Black. About 68 percent are registered Democrats, the review found.”
Recently, a Florida ballot initiative granted voting rights to felons. Then, the Republican-led Legislature required that they first pay their outstanding fines and fees. Some viewed that move to be a form of voter suppression.
Many of the potential new voters, however, still don’t know their debts have been paid, and the coalition does not ask whether the people whose fees they pay are registered to vote.