Thousands of Floridians convicted of felonies were able to cast their vote in Tuesday's election, thanks to a little help from basketball greats LeBron James and Michael Jordan. The pair showed their support by providing funding towards Michael Bloomberg’s $27 million initiative to help clear lingering fines and court fees for about 40,000 former felons in the state, in time for the election, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
About 75% of former felons owe court debt, and about 70% of them are unable to pay, Yahoo Sports reported. According to the news site, there is no central database used in the state, either, making paying those fees extremely difficult, if not impossible.
This opportunity helped former felons regain their voting power.
In 2018, approximately 1.4 million Floridians had their right to vote restored due to Amendment 4, that allowed convicted felons who already served their sentence to vote again, excluding those convicted of murder or sexual offense.
However, the state’s Republican lawmakers and governor restricted the effort. A 2019 law was enforced that required felons to pay all their court fines and fees before regaining their right to vote. In May, that law was found to be unconstitutional, The New York Times reported. However, an appeals court ruling revoked that ruling of unconstitutionality earlier this year. Five of the six votes that overturned that ruling came from judges who were appointed by President Donald Trump, the newspaper reported.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, about 32% of the 4,700 felons who had their rights restored through Bloomberg’s foundation in the states four biggest counties had registered to vote.
It was not clear how much exactly the basketball stars donated. However, it was reported that James and his organization, “More Than A Vote,” had previously committed $100,000, and the Miami Heat donated $45,000, according to Yahoo Sports.
Inside Edition Digital has reached out to Bloomberg for comment.