Dear Commons Community,
Coca-Cola and Home Depot, two major corporations based in Georgia, have come out against the Republican-led effort to restrict access to voting in the state, The Washington Post reported yesterday.
These and other major corporations in Georgia have been under pressure from civil liberties groups to stand against legislation advancing in the Georgia General Assembly that would make it harder for people to vote, disproportionately so for racial and low-income minority groups.
The Georgia Chamber of Commerce issued a statement to CNBC that expressed its “concern and opposition” to provisions in two bills, SB 241 and HB 531, that restrict voter access.
Coca-Cola and Home Depot representatives told The Washington Post their companies were “aligned” with the chamber’s statement.
Voting rights advocates have called for stronger action from the chamber’s member companies, which include Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Aflac, UPS, Southern Co. and Delta Air Lines.
Groups including Black Voters Matter, the New Georgia Project Action Fund and the Georgia NAACP have ratcheted up the pressure for those businesses to take an explicit and public stance against the measures and stop donations to Republicans sponsoring the legislation.
Other companies have issued guarded statements that did not dissent against the legislation but stated their general support for election integrity and accessibility.
A Delta representative told the Post that it backed an “election system that promotes broad voter participation, equal access to the polls, and fair, secure elections processes.” UPS and Aflac endorsed fair and secure elections in statements to CNBC.
The two bills would institute sweeping changes to voter access, including stopping no-excuse mail-in voting, curtailing early voting on Sundays, limiting access to drop boxes and restricting early voting hours. Record turnout, including from Black voters, saw the state flip blue in the 2020 presidential election and in January’s two Senate runoffs.
They’re among more than 250 pieces of legislation proposed in 43 states that would restrict voting.
Former Georgia lawmaker Stacey Abrams, a leading Democratic voting rights activist, has called the efforts to restrict voter access racist and “a redux of Jim Crow in a suit and tie.”
“We know that the only thing that precipitated these changes, it’s not that there was the question of security,” she said Sunday on CNN, referring to false Republican claims of electoral fraud. “And so the only connection that we can find is that more people of color voted, and it changed the outcome of elections in a direction that Republicans do not like.”
She said during a call with other activists Tuesday that business leaders should take an unequivocal stance on the matter, according to CNBC.
“There should be no silence from the business community when anyone in power is trying to strip away the right to vote from the people,” she said. “There should be a hue and cry.”
Georgia corporations have taken an active side on legislation in the past but for the most part have kept their silence in political debates.
Corporate America needs to take similar stands in states around the country.