Corporations, business leaders, celebrities sign statement against voting restrictions


Demonstrators wear chains while holding a sit-in inside of the Capitol building in opposition of House Bill 531 on March 8, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. HB531 will restrict early voting hours, remove drop boxes, and require the use of a government ID when voting by mail.

Megan Varner | Getty Images

Hundreds of corporations, executives and celebrities released a statement Wednesday in opposition to “any discriminatory legislation or measures” that would restrict ballot access.

Signatories include corporations such as Amazon, BlackRock and General Motors and individuals such as Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, actor Leonardo DiCaprio and music star Ariana Grande.

The statement is the latest and largest showing of corporate backlash to GOP-backed election bills in state legislatures across the country that civil rights advocates say will make it harder for minorities to vote.

Ken Chenault, former American Express CEO, and Ken Frazier, chief executive of Merck, organized the statement, according to The New York Times, which first reported on the statement. The statement appeared in print advertisements Wednesday in the Times and The Washington Post.

American Airlines, Apple, Bank of America, Cisco, Facebook, Microsoft, Netflix, Starbucks, Target, Twitter and Vanguard were among dozens of corporate names to sign the statement.

Celebrities to sign on included George Clooney, Queen Latifah, Demi Lovato, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Gwyneth Paltrow, Shonda Rhimes and Dwyane Wade.

Law firms and nonprofits also signed the statement.

Chenault and Frazier two weeks prior spearheaded a coalition of prominent Black business executives calling on corporate America to come out against voter restrictions. The move came after Georgia's Republican governor, Brian Kemp, signed into law a sprawling election bill that opponents say disproportionately hurts Black voters.

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Georgia-based corporations Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines, which condemned the Georgia law as “unacceptable” after it passed, declined to sign the Wednesday statement, the Times reported. Home Depot, another company headquartered in the Peach State, also reportedly declined to sign on.

Lawmakers in Georgia threatened to rescind a tax break for Delta following the corporation's backlash to the new election law. Former President Donald Trump earlier in April called for a boycott of companies that opposed voter restrictions, including Delta, Coca-Cola and Major League Baseball, which pulled this summer's All-Star Game out of the Atlanta area in response to the voting legislation. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell last week said corporations should “stay out of politics.”

Companies and business leaders are wading into the debate over voting rights as lawmakers consider election legislation at the state and local level.

Nonpartisan policy institute Brennan Center for Justice tracked 361 bills with restrictive provisions introduced in 47 states across the country as of March 24.

The Senate is considering a sweeping election reform bill, the For the People Act, which Democrats see as a way to combat the Republican-backed voter restrictions in state legislatures.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a letter Tuesday strongly opposing the For the People Act.

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