Company executives are speaking out against a new voting law in Georgia that they say amounts to suppressing people’s right to cast their ballots.
On March 25, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a voting bill known as SB 202 into law that changes nearly all aspects of voting and elections in the state, Insider previously reported, noting controversial aspects such as stricter voter ID laws for absentee ballots.
Civil rights groups have said the bill amounts to voter suppression, and President Joe Biden said it’s “Jim Crow in the 21st Century.”
As activists, civil rights groups, and Black executives have called on companies to speak out against the law, many have responded.
Atlanta-based Coca-Cola said in an April 1 statement that, “We want to be crystal clear and state unambiguously that we are disappointed in the outcome of the Georgia voting legislation.”
The company faced consumer boycotts for not doing enough to stop the bill. Though it didn’t address specific aspects of the legislation, Coca-Cola said, “Throughout Georgia’s legislative session we provided feedback to members of both legislative chambers and political parties, opposing measures in the bills that would diminish or deter access to voting. ”
Home Depot and Delta, which are also based in Atlanta, faced similar pressure. Delta CEO Ed Bastian said the bill is “unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values.” He said the legislation was “based on a lie.”
Though Home Depot didn’t comment directly on the bill, it said, “all elections should be accessible, fair, and secure and support broad voter participation.”
Last week, 72 Black business leaders urged American companies to oppose lawsthat would restrict the rights of Black voters. The effort was led in part by Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier.
“As Black business leaders, we cannot sit silently in the face of this gathering threat to our nation’s democratic values and allow the fundamental right of Americans, to cast their votes for whomever they choose, to be trampled upon yet again,” the letter said.
Others who signed onto the letter included the chief executives of Vista Equity Partners, Ariel Investments, and TIAA.
Other companies outside of Atlanta have since spoken out.
Chicago-based United didn’t specifically mention the Georgia law in its statement, but said, “Some have questioned the integrity of our nation’s election systems and are using it to justify stricter voting procedures, even though numerous studies have found zero evidence of widespread fraud in US elections. Legislation that infringes on the right to vote of fellow Americans is wrong.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook condemned election laws like Georgia’s, and said voting among citizens should be easier than ever, thanks to technology.
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon defended voter rights on CNN, saying “We regularly encourage our employees to exercise their fundamental right to vote, and we stand against efforts that may prevent them from being able to do so.”