POLITICS

Hundreds Of Execs Sign Statement Defending Voter Rights Against GOP Suppression

Voters must have "an equal, fair opportunity to cast a ballot," said the statement signed by CEOs and companies including Google, Netflix, Apple and Amazon.

More than 300 CEOs, other executives and companies including Google, Netflix, Apple, Amazon and Facebook have signed a statement defending Americans’ “right to vote” against voter suppression legislation pushed by Republicans across the nation. 

Voting is the “most basic and fundamental right of all Americans” and the “lifeblood of democracy,” said the statement, headlined “We Stand for Democracy,” which appeared as an ad Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and other publications.

“We all should feel a responsibility to defend the right to vote and to oppose any discriminatory legislation or measures that restrict or prevent any eligible voter from having an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot,” the statement added.

The ad was organized by Kenneth Chenault, former CEO of American Express; Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier; and the Black Economic Alliance.

“There is overwhelming support in corporate America for this principle of voting rights,” Chenault told The Wall Street Journal. “The right to vote is fundamental to America. It is not a partisan issue. Who in their right mind would say that they want legislation that will limit people’s ability to vote?” 

Other signatories included Target, Starbucks, Berskshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, multiple nonprofit organizations and law firms, and celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney and Larry David.

The statement does not specify any legislation emerging in state legislatures designed to make it more difficult to vote, such as shortening voting hours, cutting back on polling stations and drop boxes, and increasing requirements for mail-in ballots. Nor does it specify possible actions businesses might take against states attempting to constrain voting, such as reducing investments.

“We’re not being prescriptive about how people manifest their opposition,”  Chenault explained.

Delta Air Lines, Coca-Cola, UPS and Home Depot — all headquartered in Georgia, which enacted the first major voter suppression legislation since Donald Trump lost — did not sign. But Delta and Coca-Cola released statements condemning the Georgia law last month.

Other corporations notably missing included JPMorgan Chase, AT&T, Walmart and PepsiCo.

GOP vote suppression is driving an increasingly large wedge between corporations and Republicans, who have traditionally been allies. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) earlier this month scolded businesses, ordering them to stay out of politicsexcept for continuing campaign contributions to Republican lawmakers.

Manipulating the vote is only one bone of contention business has with Republicans. The GOP is also creating a divisive, angry, dangerous constituency that works against a thriving economy, experts contend. 

“Nobody in the business community wants hostile communities, angry finger-pointing workforces and turbulent shareholder bases,” said Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld, a senior associate dean at the Yale School of Management. “It makes your job so much harder to have every constituency group at war within themselves, which has become the hallmark of the GOP.”

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