Companies Defend Rights to Vote

Companies are people, too – or so we’re told

In legal parlance, companies are considered to be people. It may sound strange since, while they are made up of people, companies lack a number of human traits. Companies aren’t born or die, for example, though they can identify when they start and stop. It’s not the same. Companies don’t get married. Companies don’t go to the hospital or cook dinners or even buy groceries. And, companies don’t vote! Thus, it’s odd that companies are considered to be people.

Or, do they vote? Companies may not cast ballots like you and I do, but they certainly affect voting and governmental policies with their political contributions and lobbying. It can be safely said that corporations have their eye (humanizing them) on the future of this country.

Companies recognize bad legislation

It was significant that many companies this past Friday came to the defense of the American people over voting rights.

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Hannah Denham and Jena McGregor, writing for The Washington Post, note how companies are defending the freedom to vote in their article: HP, Dow, Under Armour among nearly 200 companies speaking out against voting law changes in Texas, other states. They write:

Nearly 200 companies on Friday joined in a strong statement against proposals that threaten to restrict voting access in dozens of states, in a further sign of corporate willingness to speak out on social justice issues.

“There are hundreds of bills threatening to make voting more difficult in dozens of states nationwide,” executives wrote in the statement, which also included signatures from the CEOs of Under Armour, Salesforce and ViacomCBS.

“We call on elected leaders in every state capitol and in Congress to work across the aisle and ensure that every eligible American has the freedom to easily cast their ballot and participate fully in our democracy,” the statement said.

Companies woke up in Georgia

Rachel Treisman filed a report for NPR that tells of companies reacting to recent voting legislation in Georgia. Her article, ‘Based On A Lie’ – Georgia Voting Law Faces Wave of Corporate Backlash, captures corporate leaders noting the legislative failure:

James Quincey, Coca-Cola CEO and chairman, expressed disappointment with the legislation’s outcome in a statement Thursday and said the company would continue to work with stakeholders to advocate for change.

“Our focus is now on supporting federal legislation that protects voting access and addresses voter suppression across the country,” he said. “We all have a duty to protect everyone’s right to vote, and we will continue to stand up for what is right in Georgia and across the U.S.”

Delta CEO Ed Bastian called the final bill unacceptable, writing in a Wednesday memo to employees that “the entire rationale for this bill was based on a lie: that there was widespread voter fraud in Georgia in the 2020 elections,” a claim that has been repeatedly debunked.

“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,” he said. “That is wrong.”

The initial small-voice reactions soon turned into legions as other companies chimed in:

Criticism of the legislation, in the form of statements affirming the importance of equitable voting access, has come from other Georgia-based businesses, including UPS, Home Depot, Porsche Cars North America and the Atlanta Falcons, according to statements collected by CNBC.

It’s also coming from outside the state. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon decried the legislation in a statement to CNN Business in which he said the company’s “employees span the United States and as state capitals debate election laws, we believe voting must be accessible and equitable.”

Officials from Facebook, ViacomCBS, Citigroup, Cisco and pharmaceutical company Merck were among those who issued statements restating their support for equitable voting access.

Black leaders made a statement

The voting restrictions are levied primarily against citizens of color so it is not surprising that black corporation leaders spoke out. The link provided here for the open letter is a “must read” for anyone interested in voting rights.

And on Wednesday, 72 prominent Black executives … [published] an open letter titled “The Fierce Urgency IS Now” as a full-page advertisement in The New York Times. The letter denounced the Georgia law and others like it, and urged “corporate leaders everywhere to speak out against efforts intended to make it harder for Americans to vote.”

“As Black business leaders, we cannot sit silently in the face of this gathering threat to our nation’s democratic values and allow the fundamental right of Americans, to cast their vote for whomever they choose, to be trampled upon yet again,” they wrote.

Companies need to recognize greater voter disenfranchisement

Voting disenfranchisement has been with this nation since its inception. It’s nothing new, albeit we experience it in different and more creative ways. It is so common that we ignore the more egregious vote suppression (worse than voter suppression) we endure in presidential elections because of the Winner-Takes-All (WTA) approach. While voter suppression disenfranchises tens of thousands of voters, WTA ignores tens of millions of ballots.

If only those same corporations noted above could/would be as willing to defend these millions! If only these millions would realize the laws already in place, for so long, that disenfranchises them.

Equal Voice Voting (EVV) needs corporate voices, too. Those who lead, those who are steeped in civic history, those who care about our right to vote need to remove WTA from our presidential voting process and replace it with EVV.

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By Jerry Spriggs and the Equal Voice Voting Team

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