Business leaders in the United States are calling for efforts to restrict access to voting after Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed bill that opponents claim disproportionately disenfranchised people of color.
In the revision of the state elections, the bill includes a restriction on drop boxes, makes it a crime to provide food or water to voters who line up outside of polling stations, requires mandatory proof of identity for postal voting, and creates better legislative control over them the state of the elections run.
The bill is one of many Republican-backed electoral efforts in the US after former President Donald Trump and other GOP members falsely claimed that last year’s election defeat was due to fraud. Supporters say the law was necessary to restore confidence in the Georgia elections.
For Georgia, it comes after the historic turnout in the state elections, especially among black and colored voters, in the parliamentary elections in November and the runoff election in January, in which two Democrats defeated the incumbent Republican senators.
Civil rights groups, business leaders and democratic officials denounce the law.
CNBC has compiled a list of company responses to the invoice:
- Global wealth manager BlackRock posted a statement on LinkedIn on Wednesday.
“Equal access to voting is the foundation of American democracy. While BlackRock understands the importance of maintaining the integrity and transparency of elections, these should not be used to restrict equal access to elections. BlackRock is concerned about efforts Voting should be easy and accessible to ALL voters. Voting is not just a right but an essential part of civil activity. We should encourage all voters to play this essential role in our democracy “wrote CEO Larry Fink.
- Alfredo Rivera, executive director of Coca-Cola, said in a statement the Georgia-based company was disappointed with the law. “As soon as the Georgian legislature met this year, our company has teamed up with other Georgian companies to share our core principles: we have opposed measures designed to reduce or restrict electoral access, and we are in favor of widespread access, Voter comfort, electoral integrity and political neutrality pronounced Anything that inhibits these principles can lead to the suppression of voters. We took these steps because they are in line with our purpose and the conscience we follow, “he said.
- Georgia-based Delta Airlines said in a memo to employees that the “final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values”. “Now that we have time to fully understand everything that is in the bill, along with discussions with executives and staff in the black community, it is evident that the bill contains provisions that would make many underrepresented voters, especially blacks Voters, making it harder to move, have their constitutional right to elect their representatives. That is wrong, “said CEO Ed Bastian.
- Pharmaceutical company Merck said Wednesday that the company “stands strongly on our core values, including our commitment to social justice and the right of people to fully and freely participate in electoral processes.” “There is no more fundamental right than the right to vote. Democracy is based on the fact that every person entitled to vote has the same and fair opportunity to cast a vote, without restrictions that have discriminatory effects. We all have an obligation to oppose it.” Racism and other forms of discrimination whenever we see them, “added the company.
- Porsche’s North American company, headquartered in Georgia, said that “equal access to polls for every voter is at the core of a democracy”. “As an Atlanta-based company, Porsche Cars North America (PCNA) supported the work of the Metro Atlanta Chamber with members of the Georgia General Assembly to maximize voter turnout and ensure electoral integrity. We understand that legislative outcome continues to be the subject of debate and hope A resolution can be found between all sides promoting and enabling all voting rights, “said the company.
- Georgia-based UPS said this week the company supports the ability and facility for all eligible voters to exercise their voting rights. “Like other companies in the community, we have actively partnered with political leaders from both parties and other stakeholders to advocate fairer access to elections and the integrity of the electoral process across the state. We agree with the statement made by the Metro Atlanta Chamber and the Metro Atlanta Chamber to be ready to continue to help ensure that every Georgian voter can vote, “the company said.
- Mercedes-Benz said it stands “against efforts to prevent eligible voters from participating in this important process”.
- In a blog post, Microsoft President Brad Smith noted that prior to its passage, the company had voiced concerns about the law and set out its contradiction in greater detail, such as narrowing the window in which voters can request a postal vote. “We recognize that some criticisms of Georgian legislation have recently been shown to be inaccurate. However, we already understand that the new law contains important provisions that make it unnecessarily and unfairly difficult for people to vote,” wrote Smith. “This new law falls short of the mark and we should work together to push Georgian lawmakers to change it,” he added.
- Brian Moynihan, Chairman and CEO of Bank of America, told CNBC in a statement that ensuring equal access to the vote goes hand in hand with the company’s investments in reducing racial inequality and increasing economic opportunity. “The right to vote – and the important work that needs to be done to protect access to that right – is a fundamental principle in the United States,” he said. “Our history is indeed interrupted by the moments when we extended this right to those who have been denied it for too long. We must continue to correct the injustices of our past and work together for equal voting rights for all.”
- Chuck Robbins, Cisco’s CEO, shared his concerns about the new law in a tweet. “Our voice is our voice, and everyone deserves the opportunity to be heard. Governments should work to make voting easier, not more difficult. Ensuring equal #VotingRights is not a political problem, but a problem of right and wrong. ” he said.
- Georgia-based Home Depot said it will work to ensure its employees across the country have the resources and information to vote. “We believe that all elections should be accessible, fair, and safe, and encourage broad turnout.”
- Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, said in a statement that “voting is fundamental to the health and future of our democracy,” and called for restrictive electoral laws. “JPMorgan Chase’s employees span the United States. As capitals debate electoral laws, we believe that voting must be accessible and fair. We regularly encourage our employees to exercise their basic right to vote, and we oppose efforts to do that may prevent them from being able to We are a stronger country where every citizen has a voice and a voice, “the company said. CNN first reported the statement.
- Citigroup said it strongly opposes “efforts to undermine Americans’ ability to exercise this fundamental right.”
- In a LinkedIn post, Steve Squeri, CEO of American Express, praised the new efforts made by the company’s former chairman and CEO, Ken Chenault, to get the American company to campaign for voting rights. “As a company and a leadership team, we support this message and oppose any efforts to suppress voting, which is a fundamental right for all Americans,” wrote Squeri.
- Facebook said the company supported “making voting as accessible and broad as possible” and opposed “efforts to make it harder for people to vote.”
- ViacomCBS believes “in the importance of all Americans who have equal voting rights and who oppose Georgia’s recent suffrage law or any effort that hinders the exercise of this vital constitutional right. Improving voter access and civic engagement is one of the tasks from ViacomCBS. ” We will continue to educate the public about the importance of an open and fair voting system through the implementation of programs and extensive partnerships with grassroots organizations that promote and increase participation in elections. “
In a statement to CNBC on Wednesday, Kemp defended the law, specifically targeting Delta’s executives.
“Today’s statement by Delta CEO Ed Bastian is in stark contrast to our discussions with the company, ignores the content of the new law and unfortunately continues to spread the same false attacks repeated by partisan activists,” said the Republican governor.
“Mr Bastian should compare Georgia’s electoral laws – which include apologetic absentee voting, online voter registration, 17 days early voting with two additional optional Sundays, and automatic voter registration upon receipt of a driver’s license – to other states Delta Airlines works in,” added he added.
Kemp doubled that argument in an interview on CNBC’s “Closing Bell” later Wednesday, saying he was “happy to deal with the wave of corporate criticism”. He also pointed to measures in the bill to expand access to ballot papers, claiming that the legislation would extend early voting hours in more than 130 of Georgia’s 159 districts.
“If [executives] If we want to have a debate on the merits and facts of the bill, that’s what we should do, “said Kemp.
CNBC’s Frank Holland, Mike Wayland, Phil LeBeau, Courtney Reagan, Sara Eisen, Amelia Lucas, Steve Desaulniers, Hannah Miao and Leslie Picker contributed to this report.