Corporate America feels pressure on voting rights

File-This October 12, 2020 file photo shows hundreds of people waiting for an early vote in Marietta, Georgia. A radical rewrite of Georgia's election rules signed by Republican Governor Brian Kemp on Thursday, March 25, 2021 after former President Donald Trump lost his president to Joe Biden, an unfounded fraud It represents the first major change since repeating the claim. Georgia's new 98-page law makes many changes to the way elections are managed, including the requirement for new photo IDs for absentee ballots by mail.  (AP photo / Ron Harris, file)

Hundreds of people line up waiting for an early vote in Marietta, Georgia in October. (Ron Harris / Associated Press)

After weeks of enthusiastic involvement, the United States of America is fighting for voting access as business leaders vie for a stronger stance against numerous voting-restricted bills at state capitols across the country. Completely rushed into.

The sudden protest was delayed in response to a review of the elections in Georgia and was blamed late by two state-based giants, Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola.The turmoil culminated on Friday Major League Baseball moves all-star game from Atlanta. That same day, more than 170 companies jumped into a dispute blaming hundreds of bills to make voting difficult, a sign that the phenomenon continues to spill over into state capitols and parliamentary halls such as Texas.

Usually, mysterious election rules are now under intense political mutual pressure, as liberals demand more intense criticism of the proposal and conservatives blame businesses for kowtowing to the left.

Companies have spent most of 2020 pledged to defend equality with a national reputation for race. They also quickly proclaimed democratic values ​​in response to the January 6 attack on the US Capitol by supporters of President Trump trying to prevent proof of defeat in the elections. Activists say companies must show how honest both pledges were in the dispute over voting rights.

“What I saw in Georgia-this is … protecting black and brown Americans for voting rights,” said JUST Capital, a non-profit organization that tracks how businesses align with American public opinion. Yusuf George, Managing Director of Corporate Engagement, said. ..

“If the company really stands firmly in its commitment to racial equality, [it’s] Not only do we speak when the time comes, but we also put those commitments into action. “

But by taking a keen position on voters’ oppressive efforts, companies risk alienating a wide range of conservatives who have traditionally defended business-friendly priorities such as tax cuts and deregulation. Ralph Reed, a longtime evangelical activist based in Georgia, said.

“At some point, you’re going to ask yourself:’Lower taxes and less so that they can lie about us by calling us big names, hay seeds, and lamentations. Do you agree with the regulation? ”Reed said.

Many Republicans consider so-called election integrity to be their number one concern after Trump unfoundedly characterizes the 2020 elections as fraudulent. The allegations were particularly terrible in Georgia, where Joe Biden slightly beat Trump in November and two Democrats won the Senate election in January.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, a think tank at New York University, Republicans in Georgia have responded by changing the way elections are held. This is part of a broader national trend with at least 361 voting restrictions proposed so far this year in 43 states. ..

Some of the most controversial proposals, such as the end of the absentee ballot without excuses, were eventually abandoned. The final product is a 98-page omnibus, which has increased access to voting in several ways, including expanding early voting and improving polling place signs in most counties. However, it also imposed new restrictions such as ID requirements for mail voting, banning non-elected workers from distributing food and water to people in line to vote. The law requires at least one voter drop box in every county, but the number of boxes is also capped, significantly reducing availability in the most populous areas.

Opponents of the bill sometimes exaggerated its effectiveness. Biden has repeatedly stated that voting times will be reduced under the new law, which is incorrect.

Republican Governor Brian Kemp said Thursday that “they don’t even know what the bill is about” about Fox Business.

Because the Republican Party controls the Georgia Capitol Museum and the Governor’s Office Voting rights group I asked the company for backup at an early stage. In a full-page ad for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last month, supporters revealed the names and contact information of executives of state-based state-owned enterprises.

Nsé Ufot, Chief Executive Officer of the New Georgia Project, a voter registration group, said: “But this attachment of both sides to transpartisan for transpartisan literally kills us and kills our democracy.”

Judd Legum, a progressive journalist specializing in corporate political involvement, said he sought to record “dozens of companies” about their position in Georgia’s voting bill last month.

“They didn’t seem to be very grateful for how much people care about their stance on this,” Regham said.

Companies were largely cautious until Kemp signed the bill on March 26. Delta initially emphasized how the bill was “significantly improved,” keeping in mind the remaining concerns before the bill was passed. Carefully expressed comments seemed disagreeable to airlines, which are loudly positioned as advocates of equality.

Henry Harteveldt, an aviation industry analyst at the Atmosphere Research Group, said: “When it praises [Georgia’s voting legislation], It was released and appeared to be in conflict with previous statements. “

The airline, which employs more than 30,000 people in the state, followed up in worse words a few days after the boycott call began to spread on social media.

“We need to make it clear that the final invoice is unacceptable and inconsistent with Delta’s values,” said airline CEO Ed Bastian. I will. Company memo Wednesday.

No one seemed to be pleased with the course correction. Georgia House has submitted a last-minute bill to revoke jet fuel tax cuts. This is a reaction primarily seen as a punishment for Delta’s more intense accusations. (The bill was sputtered by the state legislature.)

Former Georgia Republican Chairman Reed dismissed Bastian’s reaction as an “official statement of wet noodles” simply aimed at softening liberals.

“Are they threatening to run any business?” He asked. “number.”

The New Georgia project Ufot wasn’t impressed either.

“There is no compromise at this point,” she said. “And that’s what Delta is experiencing. If you try to play on both sides across a fence, you’ll fail.”

She appreciated San Francisco-based Salesforce, which has a significant presence in Georgia. Salesforce was an early loud opponent of the law, saying tech companies violate the company’s principle of protecting voting rights.

That public attitude was once an exception, but soon became a rule this week. Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey said beverage makers have always opposed the bill, but that would make it “more powerful.” Microsoft President Brad Smith, who plans to significantly expand his presence in Atlanta, has published a long blog post detailing certain concerns.

More than 70 black executives have called on businesses to publicly condemn restrictive voting bills. This is an unusual indication of pressure between businesses, showing how deeply the voting access battle resonated in the main meeting rooms.

The statement showed a departure from the company’s natural instinct to avoid split politics.

“Usually the response of the company [is] I don’t have to be there, so I’ll wait for the next issue, “said Doug Schuler, a professor of business and public policy at Rice University.

But companies that think they can avoid voting involvement are misunderstanding this political moment, Legham said.

“It’s an outdated way of thinking,” he said. “Consumers and employees care about the value of the companies they work for or do business with. It’s different than it was 10 or 20 years ago.”

In the past, when the business community mobilized in response to controversial bills, it had a huge impact. For example, in 2015, Indiana faced a swift backlash from Apple, NCAA, Angieslist, and others over a law that allowed individuals and businesses to cite free religion as a legal defense, and LGBTQ. Raised concerns that discrimination against people in the world would be protected. .. After the boycott threat, Indian Republicans retreated to the most controversial language.

The NFL withdrew the Super Bowl from Phoenix in the 1990s after Arizona voted against defending Martin Luther King Jr. Day as paid leave. Arizona also suffered from boycotts in 2010 over strict immigration laws. State executives fear that new restrictions on voting could cause similar damage to the state’s public image.

“Issues that can damage Arizona’s reputation and therefore be very economically successful are issues we consider,” said Neil Giuliano, president of the state group Greater Phoenix Leadership. I am. Top CEO.

Giuliano’s group has been openly opposed to some voting restrictions as they pass through the State Capitol. He said it was necessary to send a clear message about the position of the business community.

“I can’t dance on these issues,” he said. “There are supporters who want to know what you believe in.”

The state of Georgia may have further economic implications in the future.

“Unfortunately, @MLB Georgia’s All-Star Game is likely to fall first of many dominoes until the unnecessary barriers set to restrict access to ballot boxes have been removed, “Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said on Friday. Tweeted.

State religious leaders called for boycotts of Delta, Coca-Cola, and The Home Depot next week.

But 2018 Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams said boycotts aren’t needed yet, encouraging businesses to speak out about voter suppression bills in other states, and supporters of those bills. Withhold donations to the meeting.

Meanwhile, companies in other states are preparing for a similar battle. Most notable is Texas, which submitted a bill on Thursday limiting parliamentarians’ efforts to increase voting access. Among these telephone companies was former Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro, who demanded that Southwest Airlines and American Airlines be informed of their position.

Within hours, American Airlines issued a clear statement that it “strongly opposes this bill and other bills.”

Times staff writer Andrea Chan contributed to this report.

This story was originally Los Angeles Times..

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