Business heavy-weights steer clear of thorny voting rights debates in Georgia

New York, April 1 2021: In an era where US politics are increasingly polarized, Georgia state has signed into law a series of new voting rights bills, who many fear will end up marginalizing some sections of the population.

In the midst of this, companies like Delta-Air and Coca-Cola, who were so far neutral, are under intense public pressure to declare their stance. Consumer threats to boycott the brands and trends such as #BoycottDelta, prompted public statements from their CEOs, Ed Bastian and James Quincey, assuring the public the new laws were regressive and unacceptable. Bastian’s Wednesday statement read, “The entire rationale for this bill was based on a lie: that there was widespread voter fraud in Georgia in the 2020 elections.”

The state is also houses headquarters of Home Depot and UPS who largely remained neutral on the issue. While Black executives openly called for corporate giants to oppose these bills.

Civil rights groups and prominent lobbies such as Business Roundtable endorses wider ballot access and have likened the new laws to the era of Jim Crow’s repression of African-Americans.

A state with a history of slavery and segregation, Georgia experienced huge voter turnouts and was a key battle-ground in the 2020 presidential contest, partly thanks to mail-in voting. Former President alleged there was “wide voter fraud” in Georgia after Joe Biden scraped a narrow victory over him.

The measures intend to impose voter ID requirements, limit polling points, stops volunteers from easing the waiting times in lines and generally make it harder for people to vote and decrease turnout.

Republican Governor Brian Kemp, responsible for signing in the law defended it by saying it was misinterpreted by opponents. While critics say lawmakers must listen to Black people and young voters because they matter.

43 other states have introduced more than 250 bills that would make it harder to vote in response to the former president’s “continued lies about voter fraud,” according to the Brennan Center for Justice, a progressive think tank.

Nse Ufot, CEO of the New Georgia Project Action Fund, commented, “Conversations with Black and Brown leaders must happen at all stages and all areas of decision-making, not after the damage is done.”

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