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LeBron James' More Than a Vote launches new campaign to defend voting rights

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Washington — More Than A Vote, the voting rights advocacy group led by a collective of athletes including NBA superstar LeBron James, is launching a new national campaign to combat voter suppression, as state legislatures across the country advance legislation to restrict ballot access.

The group's "Protect Our Power" campaign coincides with the NBA's All-Star Weekend, and aims to fight against voter suppression efforts across the country that would disproportionately affect Black voters. As part of the launch, More Than A Vote is partnering with the Black Voters Matter Fund, Fair Fight Action, Georgia NAACP and the New Georgia Project to focus on legislation in Georgia that would restrict access to voting, with the state emerging as the epicenter of the battle over voting rights.

A new ad narrated by James is slated to air during the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday. The game falls on the anniversary of 1965's "Bloody Sunday," when nonviolent voting rights activists led by the late Congressman John Lewis marched from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama to advocate for voting rights and were brutally beaten by police officers. Sunday's All-Star game is being played in Atlanta, which Lewis represented in Congress for decades.

More Than a Vote's campaign comes as multiple state legislatures are considering legislation that would make it more difficult to vote by mail and shorten early-voting periods. Georgia saw record turnout in the 2020 general election and voted for President Biden, who became the first Democrat to win the state since 1992. Georgians then delivered control of the Senate to Democrats, with Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff each winning their subsequent runoff races.

"Black and Brown voters changed the game in 2020, so in response, lawmakers are trying to change the rules in 2021," Renee Montgomery, a two-time WNBA champion and new co-owner of the league's Atlanta Dream, said in a statement about More Than a Vote's efforts. "We know that as athletes and as leaders we have to keep our foot on the gas to protect our power, preserve and expand our voting rights, and to continue turning moments into momentum."

More Than A Vote said it is also expanding its advocacy work to include mobilizing Black voters in local elections, supporting a fair redistricting process later this year and addressing criminal justice reform.

The ad airing Sunday features footage from the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, with James explaining that the effort to educate voters and to protect voting rights requires continuous, concrete activism to make an impact.

"This isn't the time to put your feet up," James says in the ad. "Or to think posting hashtags and black squares is enough. Because for us, this was never about one election."

More Than a Vote was active in the 2020 general election and the Georgia Senate runoffs, deploying ads to educate voters about how to register and vote by mail. In addition, the group partnered with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund to recruit poll workers for the 2020 general election, signing up more than 10,000 volunteers.

Other athletes involved with the group include Damian Lillard, Patrick Mahomes, Jaylen Brown, A'ja Wilson and Lisa Leslie.

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