US CEOs Hash Out Response to Georgia Voting Law Controversy
Over 100 of the nation’s top business executives came together in an online meeting Saturday to discuss the best ways for companies to respond to the voting controversy in several states and put on the national stage by Georgia last week.
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The new law, signed last week, has been criticized as restrictive towards lower income and minority residents of the state, particularly in Fulton County. Fulton County is one of the most populated areas of Georgia, and it includes Atlanta, its largest city. Atlanta is 50% Black and 38% white, according to DataUSA.
The law allows a Republican-controlled state legislature, rather than the secretary of the state of Georgia, to appoint a committee to conduct elections. Georgia’s state legislature has been Republican-controlled since 2005.
The law also dramatically reduces the amount and operation of drop boxes for absentee ballots, specifically for Fulton County/Atlanta. The law states that each county cannot have more than one drop box per early voting site or per 100,000 active registered voters, whichever is smaller, CNN reports, noting that this will dramatically reduce the number of drop boxes available in some large counties. For example, in Fulton County, drop boxes will go from the 38 they had in the November election to just 8 in the future.
Additionally, drop boxes must be located at election offices or inside early voting locations and can only be available during early voting hours. In 2020, drop boxes could be located outside and available 24 hours a day, CNN writes.
This adds concerns over voter intimidation by election officials or supporters of opposing candidates, which was seen during the 2020 elections.
Immediate corporate reaction came from the Major League Baseball, which decided to boycott Georgia over the decision and move the All-Star Game out of Georgia in solidarity.
Company CEOs are also weighing in. Ed Bastian, Delta’s chief executive stated, “I need to make it crystal clear that the final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values,” The New York Times reports.
John Quincey, Coca-Cola’s CEO, stated something similar: “I want to be crystal clear, the Coca-Cola Company does not support this legislation, as it makes it harder to people to vote, not easier.” Coca-Cola is one of Georgia’s largest companies.
All told, over 100 other chief executives have banned together to decide how to respond. In a virtual meeting over the weekend, executives from the airline industry, investment banks and more suggested withholding donations from lawmakers supporting such legislation or reconsidering investment in states that pass these restrictive laws, according to the Financial Times.
The meeting came after mounting pressure for corporations to follow in Coca-Cola’s and Delta’s footsteps, despite serious resistance from Republican lawmakers.
During the call, some leaders, including AMC CEO Adam Aron and Estee Lauder director Lynn Forester de Rothschild, spoke out in favor of signing on to a new statement by CEOs regarding upcoming voter bills, the WSJ reports.
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