Updated Apr 2, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Flood of CEOs, corporations speak out against Georgia's voting restrictions

Jamie Dimon

Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Over 100 companies including Twitter, Zillow and Uber issued a joint statement through Civic Alliance Friday, joining a slew of major corporate players who have expressed concern about Georgia's law curbing voting access.

Why it matters: States often take cues from how hard businesses push back. But many of these corporations, several of which are based in Georgia, could have spoken up earlier when the law was being considered or before the governor signed.

  • Activists pressed Georgia-based businesses to publicly oppose the legislation for weeks before it was signed into law, and are now calling for people to boycott the companies.
  • Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) dismissed the backlash on Wednesday, telling CNBC: “I would encourage these CEOs to look at other states that they’re doing business in and compare what the real facts are to Georgia."

What they're saying

Civic Alliance: "Our elections are not improved when lawmakers impose barriers that result in longer lines at the polls or that reduce access to secure ballot dropboxes," the joint statement said.

  • "We stand in solidarity with voters 一 and with the Black executives and leaders at the helm of this movement 一 in our nonpartisan commitment to equality and democracy."
  • Notable signees include: Abercrombie & Fitch Co., Lyft, Etsy, Reddit, Snap Inc., Salesforce and ViacomCBS.

Facebook: "We support making voting as accessible and broad-based as possible and oppose efforts to make it harder for people to vote," Roy Austin, VP and deputy general counsel for civil rights, said in a statement.

Google: "We've long created tools and resources to make it easier for people to vote. But knowing how to vote depends on people being able to vote," Senior vice president Kurt Walker tweeted. "We're concerned about efforts to restrict voting at a local level and we strongly support the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act."

Patagonia: "Our democracy is under attack by a new wave of Jim Crow bills that seek to restrict the right to vote. It is urgent that businesses across the country take a stand — and use their brands as a force for good in support of our democracy."

Mailchimp: “Voting should be safe, accessible, and easy for everyone. SB202 undermines free and fair elections in our home state of Georgia, and will make it harder for people to exercise their right to vote, especially people of color. Georgians deserve better," CEO Ben Chestnut said.

Bank of America: "Our history in fact is punctuated by the moments when we expanded that right to those to whom it had been denied too long. We must continue to right the wrongs of our past, and stand united in our advocacy for equal voting rights for all," Chairman and CEO Brian Moynihan wrote in a message to employees.

Apple: "The right to vote is fundamental in a democracy. American history is the story of expanding the right to vote to all citizens, and Black people, in particular, have had to march, struggle and even give their lives for more than a century to defend that right," CEO Tim Cook told Axios.

  • "Apple believes that, thanks in part to the power of technology, it ought to be easier than ever for every eligible citizen to exercise their right to vote."

Business Roundtable: "The right to vote is the essence of a democratic society, and the voice of every voter should be heard in fair elections that are conducted with integrity. Unnecessary restrictions on the right to vote strike at the heart of representative government. Business Roundtable members believe state laws must safeguard and guarantee the right to vote."

  • The group represents hundreds of the country's top CEOs and called on elected officials across the country to "commit to bipartisan efforts to provide greater access to voting and encourage broad voter participation."

Microsoft: "We are concerned by the law’s impact on communities of color, on every voter, and on our employees and their families.

  • "We share the views of other corporate leaders that it’s not only right but essential for the business community to stand together in opposition to the harmful provisions and other similar legislation that may be considered elsewhere."

American Express: "Ensuring equal and easy access to vote, for all those who are eligible to participate in each state, is critical to upholding the principles our country was founded upon," CEO Steve Squeri wrote on LinkedIn. "As a company and leadership team, we ... stand against any efforts to suppress voting which is a fundamental right that belongs to all Americans.

Coca-Cola: The Georgia law is "unacceptable" and "a step backwards," CEO James Quincey told CNBC Wednesday. "[It] is wrong and needs to be remedied, and we will continue to advocate for it both in private and now even more clearly in public."

Cisco: "Our vote is our voice, and everyone deserves the opportunity to be heard. Governments should be working to make it easier to vote, not harder," Cisco chairman and CEO Chuck Robbins tweeted. "Ensuring equal #VotingRights isn't a political issue, it's an issue of right and wrong."

Delta Airlines: "[I]t’s evident that the bill includes provisions that will make it harder for many underrepresented voters, particularly Black voters, to exercise their constitutional right to elect their representatives. That is wrong."

  • Kemp responded to Delta's opposition midday Wednesday, saying: "Throughout the legislative process, we spoke directly with Delta representatives numerous times ... At no point did Delta share any opposition to expanding early voting, strengthening voter ID measures, increasing the use of secure drop boxes statewide, and making it easier for local election officials to administer elections."
  • "Today's statement by Delta CEO Ed Bastian stands in stark contrast to our conversations with the company, ignores the content of the new law, and unfortunately continues to spread the same false attacks being repeated by partisan activists," Kemp added, per NBC News.

JPMorgan Chase: "Voting is fundamental to the health and future of our democracy. ... 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. "

72 Black executives, led by former American Express CEO Ken Chenault and outgoing Merck CEO Ken Frazier, also called on corporations to oppose voting restrictions in a historic open letter.

Other prominent companies: Home Depot, AFLAC, Cisco, BlackRock, Citigroup, Cardinal Health

Editor's note: This story will be updated as new statements are made.

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