Like so much else in American politics, the corporate backlash to Republican-led voter-suppression bills in Georgia and Texas is a direct consequence of Donald Trump’s presidency—in this case, the manner in which it ended.
Companies from Coca-Cola Co. to Delta Air Lines Inc. to Microsoft Corp. and dozens of others have condemned a wave of new voting restrictions pushed by Republicans to limit or ban absentee voting, mail voting, drop boxes, and even providing water to people standing in line to cast their ballot.
The sudden blitz of voting restrictions has an unmistakable purpose: A report from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School found that “the cumulative effect of so many targeted bills will reduce access to the ballot box for Black voters.” By making it harder to vote, Republican lawmakers are responding to Trump’s false claim that he lost the presidential election due to minority voter fraud, and they’re carrying on Trump’s efforts—this time proactively—to limit votes in minority-heavy areas from being counted.
The Republican attack is blatant enough that it has forced corporate America, under boycott threats from consumers and pressure from Black executives, to respond. “There is no middle ground here,” Kenneth Chenault, the Black former chief executive officer of American Express Co., told the New York Times. “You either are for more people voting, or you want to suppress the vote.”
That stark binary choice led Major League Baseball to announce it was moving July’s All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver, with Commissioner Rob Manfred stating, “Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box.” Delta CEO Ed Bastian, whose company is based in Atlanta, blasted Georgia’s restrictions as “based on a lie” and designed to “make it harder for many Georgians, particularly those in our Black and Brown communities, to exercise their right to vote.” Fort Worth-based American Airlines Group Inc. issued a statement criticizing a Texas bill with similar curbs on voting access that just cleared the state’s senate: “At American, we believe we should break down barriers to diversity, equity and inclusion in our society—not create them.”
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