A new statement signed by hundreds of influential companies and CEOs represents the strongest showing of solidarity against a new push for voting restrictions yet, with Google, Amazon, Netflix, General Motors, Starbucks and hundreds more opposing “any discriminatory legislation” regarding voting rights.
There have been Republican-led efforts to tighten voting restrictions in nearly every state following the 2020 election but most of the attention has been focused on Georgia, where Governor Brian Kemp signed a sweeping slate of new voting rules into law that experts have compared to Jim Crow-era legislation. The new corporate statement does not call out any state by name.
“We all should feel a responsibility to defend the right to vote and to oppose any discriminatory legislation on measures that restrict or prevent any eligible voter from having an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot,” the statement reads. It appeared as a full-page ad in the New York Times and the Washington Post.
It’s likely to heighten the rhetorical sparring matches between much of corporate America and the GOP, as high-profile Republicans like former President Donald Trump and Senators Mitch McConnell and Marco Rubio have called on companies to keep their noses out of politics.
Kenneth Chenault, a former chief executive of American Express, and Kenneth Frazier, the chief executive of Merck, were the organizers behind the statement. They’ve been leading a push to get corporate America to oppose voting restrictions since the law passed in Georgia, starting with Black executives and then moving to creating broader coalitions. “It should be clear that there is overwhelming support in corporate America for the principle of voting rights,” Chenault told the New York Times.
Fraizer told the Times that their movement should transcend partisan lines. “These are not political issues,” he said. “These are the issues that we were taught in civics.”
And yet, some corporations were too skittish about the politics to take a side. Coca-Cola and Delta — which came out against the voting legislation early — declined to sign the statement. Home Depot and JPMorgan also passed.
“Throughout our history, corporations have spoken up on different issues,” Chenault said. “It’s absolutely the responsibility of companies to speak up, particularly on something as fundamental as the right to vote.”