As organized groups of social justice activists pressure US companies to oppose Georgia's new election law, CEOs of major corporations are now coming out against the GOP-sponsored overhaul.
On Wednesday, 72 black executives - led by former American Express CEO Ken Chenault and outgoing Merck CEO Ken Frazier - signed an open letter demanding that corporate America fight the Georgia legislation. "Fundamentally, if you can't oppose this legislation — that's the lifeblood for black Americans, the right to vote. We can't be silent, and corporate America can't be silent. And if they can't speak out on this issue, what can they speak out on?" Chenault said during an appearance on CNBC.
"there’s no middle ground here. You’re either for more people voting or you want to suppress the vote," he added.
“We're asking Corporate America to publicly and directly oppose any discriminatory legislation."— The Recount (@therecount) March 31, 2021
— Former American Express CEO Ken Chenault, who is leading an effort among Black executives to get companies to help roll back new voting laws pic.twitter.com/GyoVwjq0MT
"The campaign appears to be the first time that so many powerful Black executives have organized to directly call out their peers for failing to stand up for racial justice," wrote the New York Times.
The changes via Axios:
Cut the time period voters have to request absentee ballots and impose new identification requirements.
Make it easier for state officials to take over local elections boards.
Limit the use of ballot drop boxes.
Allow challenges to voting eligibility.
Criminalize any attempt to approach voters in line.
"[R]eplace the elected secretary of state as the chair of the state election board with a new appointee of the legislature after Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger rebuffed [former President] Trump’s attempts to overturn Georgia’s election results," AP writes.
According to civil rights groups, the changes disenfranchise minorities (unlike arguably harder to obtain vaccine passports, for some reason).
Joining Chenault and the black executives are Atlanta-based Delta CEO Ed Bastian, who called Georgia's new election law "unacceptable" in a memo circulated to staff, adding that the "entire rationale for this bill was based on a lie" about election fraud in the 2020 election. "After having time to now fully understand all that is in the bill, coupled with discussions with leaders and employees in the Black community, it’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."
Also 'concerned' over Georgia's election law is Microsoft, which will press the state to change the 'unfair' law over provisions the company says "unfairly restrict the rights of people to vote legally, securely, and safely," according to president Brad Smith in a statement posted to the company's website. Smith notes the company's significant investments in Atlanta, adding "we should all work together to oppose legislation in other states that would undermine the right to vote conveniently, securely, and safely."
Lastly, Coca-Cola North American President Alfredo Rivera issued a Wednesday statement during Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms' State of the City Address, saying "I, along with my colleagues at The Coca-Cola Company, have been disappointed in the outcome of Georgia’s voting legislation. We don’t see this as the final chapter, as we will continue to work with many of you."
Now do vaccine passports...