“The floodgates are open … a slew of corporations have come out against voter suppression” Axios has reported.
Axios was referring to responses to Georgia’s just-enacted voter restrictions, but by inference also to the wave of such restrictions in development in some 43 states across the country.
Stacey Abrams, iconic Georgia voting rights advocate, offered specific action-oriented counsel to companies now joining the “floodgates”. In sum, she urged: “… speak up, show up and stand up.” “Stacey Adams: Don’t boycott corporations over voting rights yet. First press them to speak up”
” First, publicly acknowledge the truth of what’s happening … the damage done by SB 202 and its companions in other states will hurt thousands upon thousands of voters. For corporations doing business in the other 42 states considering voter suppression legislation, speak out now when it might actually stop bills from becoming law.
“Second, … Rather than financing state legislators pushing these anti-democratic bills, refuse to fund their efforts. Instead, use those earmarked campaign dollars to support projects that help the poor, the elderly, students and the isolated get the identification they need to cast their ballots in 2022…
“Third, companies must stand up for voters by endorsing the federal voting rights standards included in the For the People Act (H.R. 1 and S.1) and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R.4) [to] ensure that Americans’ access to democracy does not depend on the state in which they live …”
The same day, U.S. business leaders were addressed by Black colleagues on the need for action on voter suppression. “72 Black executives call on corporations in America to fight voting restrictions”
Axios: ” 72 Black executives signed onto an open letter Wednesday demanding corporate America take action to fight GOP-led legislation that would restrict voting access in at least 43 states … The state of play: The letter urges corporate America to publicly oppose new legislation that would limit voting rights, calling on companies to use their reputation, money and lobbyists to sway lawmakers …
“The bottom line: ‘Corporations have to stand up – there is no middle ground’, (former American Express CEO Ken) Chenault said. ‘This is about all Americans having the right to vote. But we need to recognize the special history of the denial of a right to vote for Back Americans. And we will not be silent.’ “
The list of companies continues to expand well beyond the first dozen responders — and with growing civic passion. Two special excerpts:
Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian: The new Georgia law was “based on a lie” [alleged election fraud].
Microsoft President Brad Smith: “We hope that companies will come together … we should work together to press the Georgia legislature to change it.”
These companies are already facing backlash from proponents of the new Georgia law and similar bills across the country.
Three lawsuits have been filed challenging Georgia’s SB 202.
However, Axios, on the delay in corporate action on vote suppression:
“The big question: When corporate action typically comes in the form of a press release, what took so long?
‘When they really started to respond is when they started to get pressure from antagonists. What they should have done is gotten ahead of it,’ says Paul Argenti, a corporate communications professor at Dartmouth College. Argenti says there’s a slew of factors that go into when a company decides to speak out and how quickly — like if the issue aligns with corporate strategy.
” ‘The right to vote? This is an easy one,’ Argenti says.”