The group of prominent athletes and entertainers behind More Than A Vote, a voting rights coalition launched by LeBron James in June, has signed an open letter and call to action to fans highlighting the issue of Black voter suppression.
Monday’s letter marks the first time the complete list of More Than A Vote founders has been revealed. It includes, in addition to James: Emmanuel Acho, Ray Allen, Jozy Altidore, Tim Anderson, Mo Bamba, Odell Beckham Jr., Eric Bledsoe, Toni Braxton, Bun B, Caron Butler, Carlton Davis, Skylar Diggins, Jeremy Ebobisse, Mike Evans, Allyson Felix, Draymond Green, Brittney Griner, Kevin Hart, Udonis Haslem, Andrew Hawkins, Jason Heyward, DeAndre Hopkins, Alvin Kamara, Damian Lillard, Kyle Lowry, Patrick Mahomes, CJ McCollum, Renee Montgomery, Justin Morrow, Arike Ogunbowale, Dare Ogunbowale, Chiney Ogwumike, Jeff Okudah, Kendrick Perkins, David Price, Jalen Rose, CC Sabathia, Ben Simmons, Sloane Stephens, Marcus Stroman, Maria Taylor, Kristi Toliver, Michael Vick, Bobby Wagner, A’ja Wilson and Trae Young.
“We are not politicians or policy leaders and we are not trying to be. Our organization is not here to tell you who to vote for,” the letter reads. “As individuals, we may choose to talk about specific policies or candidates, but as a team we came together to focus on one issue this year: systemic racism’s impact on our right to vote.”
In the letter, the group details three threats to Black voters.
The first is the COVID-19 pandemic, which disproportionately affects Black communities. In counties where Black people are the majority, the letter says, death rates are 3.5 times higher than the national average.
“If we don’t address this now, no joke, many Black people will be forced to put their health at risk just to cast a ballot,” it reads.
Over the past few weeks, the organization has begun to partner with sports teams and universities to turn their facilities into voting sites with adequate space for social distancing come November. Last week, the group partnered with the Los Angeles Dodgers to make Dodger Stadium a polling place for the November general election — it will be the first time a Major League Baseball team has offered its facility as a voting center. The effort to convert sports facilities is being led by a group of bipartisan election experts.
The second threat, the letter says, is the “systemic abuse of political power to make voting more difficult.” As an example, the group cites the Florida law that requires ex-felons released from prison to pay the entirety of fines owed before they can register to vote, calling it a “modern-day poll tax.” More Than A Vote has partnered with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition to push back on the law and help people pay their fines.
The group says that the third form of voter suppression is “deliberately lying to and misinforming Black voters.” To combat the issue, More Than A Vote will work with partners to use the groups’ voices and influence to share accurate information.
The group calls on readers to register to vote — and actually vote — and shut down notions about individual votes not mattering. But beyond voting, the letter asks young and healthy people to work polls on election day, volunteer time and money to voting rights organizations, and share information that will be beneficial to Black voters.
“Voting is the most important thing you can do. It’s also not enough. Not ever, but especially not in 2020,” the letter says.