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Major U.S. corporations target new Georgia voting restrictions

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Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signs Bill SB 202, a restrictive voting law that activists said was aimed at reducing the influence of black voters who were instrumental in state elections that helped Democrats win the White House and tightly control the US Senate, in this document. photo posted on Kemp’s Twitter feed on March 25, 2021.

Governor Brian Kemp’s Twitter feed | Document to be distributed via Reuters

Business leaders across the United States are calling for efforts to restrict access to the vote, after Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill that opponents say would disproportionately deprive voters of color.

Among national election overhaul, bill includes restriction of drop boxes, makes it a crime to provide food or water to voters lined up outside polling stations, requires proof of identity mandatory for absentee voting and creates greater legislative control over how elections are conducted. Classes.

The bill is one of many Republican-backed election efforts introduced across the United States after former President Donald Trump and other GOP members falsely claimed the election defeat of the year last was due to fraud. For Georgia, this follows a historic turnout in state elections, especially among black voters and voters of color, in the run-off general elections in November and January.

Today, civil rights groups, business leaders and Democratic officials are speaking out against the law.

UKTN has compiled a list of business responses to the bill:

  • Global asset manager BlackRock released a statement Wednesday on LinkedIn.
    “Equal access to the vote is the very foundation of American democracy. While BlackRock appreciates the importance of maintaining the integrity and transparency of elections, they should not be used to restrict equal access to the ballot box. BlackRock is concerned about efforts that could limit access to the ballot. Voting should be easy and accessible for ALL eligible voters. Voting is not only a right, but a vital component of civic activity. We should encourage all eligible voters to play this vital role in our democracy, ”wrote CEO Larry Fink.
  • Coca-Cola executive Alfredo Rivera said in a statement that the Georgia-headquartered company was disillusioned with the law. “As soon as the Georgian legislature convened this year, our company joined with other Georgian companies in sharing our core principles: we opposed measures to reduce or restrict voter access and we advocated for broad access, voter convenience, electoral integrity and political neutrality. . Anything that inhibits these principles can lead to the suppression of voters. We have taken these steps because they correspond to our purpose and to the conscience we follow, ”he said.
  • Georgia-based Delta Airlines said in a note to employees that “the final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values.” “After having had the time to now fully understand everything that is in the bill, coupled with discussions with leaders and employees of the black community, it is evident that the bill includes provisions that will make more difficult for many under-represented voters, especially black voters. their constitutional right to elect their representatives. This is wrong, ”said CEO Ed Bastian.
  • Pharmaceutical giant Merck said on Wednesday the company was “strong in our core values, including our commitment to social justice and the right of people to participate fully and freely in electoral processes.” “There is no more fundamental right than the right to vote. Democracy is about ensuring that every eligible voter has an equal and fair chance to vote, without restrictions that have a discriminatory impact. We all have an obligation to stand up against it. racism and other forms of discrimination whenever we see them, added company.
  • The North American operations of Porsche, headquartered in Georgia, issued a statement that “equal access to the ballot box for every voter is at the heart 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 election integrity. . We understand that the legislative outcome remains subject to debate and hope a resolution can be found between all parties that encourages and allows every eligible vote, ”the company said.
  • UPS, based in Georgia, said this week that the company supports the ability and facilitation of all eligible voters to exercise their right to vote. “Like other businesses in the community, we have actively engaged with political leaders from both parties and other stakeholders to advocate for more equitable access to the ballot box and for the integrity of the electoral process in statewide. We echo the statement from the Metro Atlanta Chamber and stand ready to continue to help ensure that every Georgian voter has the opportunity to vote, ”the company said.
  • Mercedes-Benz said it “opposes efforts that discourage eligible voters from participating in this vital process.”
  • In a blog post, Microsoft President Brad Smith noted the company expressed concern about the law before it was passed and set out its opposition in more detail, for example by reducing the time window, voters can request a postal vote. “We recognize that some recent criticisms of Georgian law have proven to be inaccurate. But already it is clear to us that the new law contains important provisions which unnecessarily and unfairly make it more difficult for people to vote,” Smith wrote. “This new law is not up to the task, and we must work together to pressure the Georgian legislature to change it,” he added.
  • Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins expressed concern over the new law in a Tweeter. “Our vote is our voice, and everyone deserves the opportunity to be heard. Governments should strive to make voting easier, not harder. Ensuring equality of #VotingRights is not a political issue. , it’s a question of right and wrong, “he said.
  • Home Depot, headquartered in Georgia, said it will work to ensure its workers across the country have the resources and information to vote. “We believe that all elections should be accessible, fair and secure and support broad voter turnout.”
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In a statement Wednesday to UKTN, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp defended the law and specifically targeted Delta’s chief executive.

“Today’s statement from Delta CEO Ed Bastian contrasts sharply with our conversations with the company, ignores the content of the new law and unfortunately continues to propagate the same bogus attacks repeated by partisan activists,” he said. said Kemp, a Republican.

“Mr. Bastian is expected to compare Georgia’s voting laws – which include no-excuse postal voting, online voter registration, 17 days of early voting with two optional extra Sundays, and automatic voter registration during of obtaining a driver’s license – with other states Delta Airlines operates, ”he added.

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Frank Holland, Mike Wayland, Phil LeBeau, Sara Eisen, Amelia Lucas, Kevin Stankiewicz and Leslie Picker of UKTN contributed to this report.

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