February 27, 2024

Protesters wear chains as they sit at the Capitol headquarters against House Bill 531 on March 8, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. HB531 limits early voting hours, removes dropboxing, and requires the use of a government ID when voting by mail.

Megan Varner | Getty Images

Hundreds of companies, executives and celebrities posted a statement Wednesday against “discriminatory laws or measures” that would restrict access to ballot papers.

Signatories include companies like Amazon, BlackRock and General Motors, as well as individuals like Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, actor Leonardo DiCaprio and music star Ariana Grande.

The statement is the latest and greatest demonstration of corporate backlash to GOP-backed electoral laws in state legislatures across the country that civil rights activists say will make it harder for minorities to vote.

Ken Chenault, former CEO of American Express, and Ken Frazier, executive director of Merck, organized the statement, according to the New York Times, which first covered the statement. The statement appeared in print advertising Wednesday in the Times and Washington Post.

American Airlines, Apple, Bank of America, Cisco, Facebook, Microsoft, Netflix, Starbucks, Target, Twitter, and Vanguard were among the dozen of company names that signed the statement.

Celebrities included George Clooney, Queen Latifah, Demi Lovato, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Gwyneth Paltrow, Shonda Rhimes, and Dwyane Wade.

Law firms and nonprofits also signed the statement.

Chenault and Frazier two weeks earlier led a coalition of prominent black businessmen who called on the American company to oppose the election restrictions. The move came after Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed a sprawling electoral law saying it hurts black voters disproportionately.

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Georgia-based Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines, which condemned Georgian law as “unacceptable” after it was passed, declined to sign Wednesday’s statement, the Times reported. Home Depot, another company headquartered in Peach State, also reportedly declined to sign up.

Georgian lawmakers threatened to lift a tax break for Delta after the company violated the new electoral law. Former President Donald Trump called for a boycott in early April of companies speaking out against voter restrictions, including Delta, Coca-Cola and Major League Baseball, which pulled this summer’s All-Star Game out of the Atlanta area in response to electoral laws. Senate Minority Chairman Mitch McConnell said last week corporations should “stay out of politics.”

Businesses and business leaders join the debate over voting rights as lawmakers consider electoral legislation at the state and local levels.

The non-partisan political institute Brennan Center for Justice pursued 361 restrictive bills that were introduced in 47 states across the country on March 24.

The Senate is considering a comprehensive electoral reform bill, the For the People Act, which Democrats see as a way to tackle Republican-backed voter restrictions in state law.

The US Chamber of Commerce released a letter Tuesday in which it strongly opposed the For the People Act.