Civil rights and activist groups are dialing up the pressure on corporate heavyweights based in Georgia, including Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Delta Air Lines, UPS, and Aflac — to oppose Republican efforts to restrict voting rights. Both Coca-Cola and Home Depot have spoken out on the issue.
In March, Republicans passed bill SB 241 through the state Senate eliminating no-excuse absentee voting. The House also approved bill HB 531 that will restrict weekend early voting, limit ballot drop boxes, require IDs for absentee voting, and reduce the absentee ballot application window. These measures would disproportionately impact Black voters in the Peach state, as indicated in a report from the Brennan Center for Justice.
The report states that Georgia’s new voting restrictions would eliminate Sunday early voting, historically an important day for Black churches that organize “Souls to the Polls” events.
These new voting restriction bills come after the traditionally Republican state turned blue in the 2020 presidential election, with Black voters playing a key role in this shift, according to Reuters.
“There’s this risk that we’re witnessing the rollback of the ‘Second Reconstruction,'” Edward Foley, an Ohio State University law professor, told the Washington Post last week.
Voting and civil rights advocates have been calling upon large corporations based in Georgia who Reuters reported donated $7.4 million to the politicians promoting the new voting restrictions legislation. Activists have been taking out digital ads and full-page ads in local newspapers asking large corporations to oppose these bills and stop their donations, Reuters noted.
Last Friday, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce expressed concerns about the new voting restrictions in a statement that supports “accessible and secure voting while upholding election integrity and transparency.” This statement also notes that Georgia’s voting laws for absentee, early, and day-of-voting were in line with 33 other states in 2020.
Coca-Cola and Home Depot have indicated that their companies are aligned with the Chamber’s statement, but activists are pressuring corporations to do more to show support for Black voters.
Cliff Albright, a Black Voters Matter co-founder told Reuters, “Some of these companies have made beautiful statements for Black Lives Matter. Yet here, in the moment where it matters most, they have been silent.”
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