Hundreds of US companies voice opposition to new voting laws

From Amazon to Warren Buffet, US firms and CEOs signed a letter opposing Republican efforts to pass new election laws.

In the last few weeks, United States businesses have started voicing opposition to a new voting law in Georgia [File: Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters]

Hundreds of United States companies and CEOs have added their signatures to a letter published on Wednesday opposing “any discriminatory legislation or measures that restrict or prevent any eligible voter” from casting a ballot.

The statement, published in a two-page ad in The New York Times and Washington Post, represents the largest coalition of business leaders and luminaries to voice their opposition to restrictive voting laws and Republican efforts to pass them across the US.

The statement was organised by Kenneth Chenault, a former chief executive of American Express, and Kenneth Frazier, the chief executive of Merck, and includes such notable signatories as General Motors, Netflix, Starbucks, Amazon, Google, and Warren Buffet.

In the last few weeks, businesses have started voicing opposition to a new voting law in Georgia. Since then, many others have chimed in against it and similar efforts.

Many Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, have pushed back, calling for the corporations and their chiefs to stay out of politics and accusing businesses of siding with the Democratic Party.

The statement does not address specific election legislation in states, among them Texas, Arizona and Michigan.

And not every company felt inclined to get on board. According to The New York Times, JPMorgan Chase declined to sign the statement despite a personal request from senior Black business leaders to the bank’s chief executive, Jamie Dimon.

Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines, which have voiced opposition to the Georgia law, did not sign on to Wednesday’s statement. Walmart, which had previously said that “broad participation and trust in the election process are vital to its integrity”, also refrained from adding its name.

Chenault and Frazier on Saturday spoke on a Zoom call with more than 100 business leaders, where they read the statement and urged executives to add their names, The New York Times reported.

A few business titans, including Buffett, the chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, said they would sign in their personal capacity while leaving their business off the list, The New York Times reported.

On Tuesday, the CEOs of 30 Michigan companies, including Ford Motor Company, General Motors and Quicken Loans, released a statement voicing opposition to changes in the state’s election laws that could be deemed as restrictive and unfair.

Similar bills on voting restrictions are being considered in Texas and Arizona.

Houston-based Hewlett Packard Enterprise said in a statement that it “categorically” opposed legislation that unfairly seeks to restrict the right of any American to vote.

The blowback against Georgia, which was the first state to pass a restrictive new voting law, continues. On Monday, a movie starring actor Will Smith and bankrolled by Apple pulled its production out of the state. Major League Baseball also recently announced that it would move its All-Star Game from Atlanta, Georgia to Denver, Colorado.

Source: Al Jazeera