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Michelle Obama and LeBron James partner to bring early voters to the U.S. polls - Metro US

Michelle Obama and LeBron James partner to bring early voters to the U.S. polls

FILE PHOTO: Former first lady Michelle Obama addresses the all virtual 2020 Democratic Convention hosted from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

(Reuters) – A get-out-the vote group led by former first lady Michelle Obama will team up with an organization backed by NBA star LeBron James to provide food, protective gear, free legal advice and rides to the polls for people voting early in the U.S. election.

Obama’s “When We All Vote” and James’ “More Than A Vote” will host catered events featuring professional DJs and guest appearances by celebrities near polling locations to encourage early voting ahead of the Nov. 3 election, the groups said in a statement.

As part of the initiative, Ride-hailing firm Lyft Inc will offer discounted rides to early voting sites and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Election Protection Coalition will provide attorneys who can advocate for voters casting their ballots in the showdown between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

Early voting is surging, as Americans try to avoid Election Day crowds because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

Nationally, more than 10 million votes have been cast, as of Tuesday, according to data compiled by the U.S. Elections Project.

“Millions of Americans have already cast their ballots and with only 21 days until Election Day, making your plan to vote early is critical,” Michelle Obama, wife of Democratic former President Barack Obama, said in a statement. “We can’t leave anyone behind.”

Her group will provide $1 million in grants and supplies to local partner organizations for the effort, according to the statement.

Some of the events will take place in cities in closely contested states, including Atlanta, Georgia; Charlotte, North Carolina; Detroit, Michigan; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Orlando, Florida; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Georgia is among states that opened early voting locations this week, with some people waiting for hours in long lines to cast their ballots.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Peter Cooney)

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