As LeBron James begins his quest for his fourth NBA Championship ring tonight—his first with the L.A. Lakers, he’ll be continuing another mission.
During Game 1 of the Finals, we’ll see 40 first-time election poll workers sitting in virtual courtside seats alongside NBA legends like Kareem Abdul-Jabar, Magic Johnson, Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki. Those workers represent the hard efforts James and other top athletes and celebrities have been putting into protecting African Americans’ right to vote during this election season through More Than a Vote, a voters’ rights organization they formed in June.
Earlier this month, the group had directed its focus toward recruiting volunteers to man the polls, specifically, in locations serving vulnerable Black communities. With agency SS+K and in partnership with the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, the group created the new ad, “We Got Next.” Featuring a voiceover from Portland Trail Blazers Guard CJ McCollum and scenes of athletes and young people standing up for racial equality and voting rights, it's a rallying cry to ensure that Black voices will be heard during the upcoming election.
The spot had premiered in mid-September during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals and received funding from corporate partners including Diageo North America, Patagonia, Bumble and Cash App—not to mention shout-outs from the likes of former President Barack Obama. According to a new report from the New York Times, the campaign has amassed 10,000 volunteers, including the 40 partaking in tonight’s virtual fan event—an innovative tech-driven experience developed by Microsoft and sponsored by Michelob Ultra. According to the NBA, the experience is also part of the organization’s own suite of efforts to get out the vote. The NBA also launched its own online resource hub Vote.NBA.com, while players during warm-up tonight and through the end of the finals will be wearing shirts reading “VOTE.”
The Times story also notes that More Than a Vote and the Legal Defense Fund will now be further targeting their push to 11 cities that still see a significant shortage in poll workers.
According to the More Than a Vote website, those who sign up to volunteer need no previous experience at the polls. Volunteers will receive full training, PPE, and in most jurisdictions will be paid a stipend for working on Election Day.