Corporate America’s campaign to defend the right to vote has extended to Texas, where dozens of companies, including Microsoft, HP and Salesforce, are calling on local officials to oppose changes that would limit eligible voters’ access to the vote.
Tuesday’s open letter from the Fair Elections Texas coalition, which self-described as an impartial group, marks the latest in a series of big-company reprimands of ballots proposed by Republicans following Donald Trump’s loss in the election.
According to the independent Brennan Center for Justice, nearly 50 restrictive bills have been introduced in Texas, more than any other state.
The most comprehensive of these would limit postal voting, limit early voting hours, increase the likelihood of long queues on election day, encourage the purge of voter rolls and increase the risk of voter intimidation, the Brennan Center warned.
In the letter from Fair Elections Texas, which includes American Airlines, Levi Strauss and Unilever, the accessibility of the ballots was popular with voters of both parties, good for business and at the heart of companies’ commitments to racial equality.
The organizers of the letter cited findings from a Republican pollster that there was bipartisan support for policies that increase access to the polls, and a study that suggests the Texas economy could lose billions of dollars if voting restrictions become law.
“We believe that the growth of free enterprise is directly related to the freedom of its citizens. Freedom is preserved in our democracy when we hold free and fair elections that protect the fundamental rights of all Texans, ”the coalition wrote.
Texas has recently seen an influx of business investment. CBRE, Charles Schwab and Hewlett Packard Enterprise have moved their headquarters to the state of Lone Star, which has no state corporate or personal income tax. Tesla is building its Gigafactory there and Apple is developing a $ 1 billion campus in Austin.
American Airlines and Dell, two companies headquartered in Texas, had already opposed specific Republican ballots that Democrats and civil rights organizations claim would disproportionately deter Texas voters from racial and ethnic minorities.
Republicans in the state have pushed back. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said last month that Texans were “fed up with companies that do not share our values to dictate government policy.”
In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal last week, Senator Ted Cruz warned “CEOs awakened”: “When the time comes when you need help with a tax break or regulatory change, I hope Democrats take your calls because maybe not. “
Last month, after companies such as Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines condemned the new voting laws in Georgia, Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, accused companies of “acting like an awakened parallel government” and said they were “had to stay out of politics”.
Instead, executives have sought to work in coalitions to coordinate their response to the estimated 361 restrictive ballots introduced in 47 states, as well as to federal legislation proposed by Democrats to expand voting rights.
Several CEOs have also faced the issue at annual meetings in recent weeks. Larry Culp, GE chief executive, told shareholders on Tuesday that he “did not intend to go into every piece of electoral law being considered in all 50 states,” but that GE felt that elections should be accessible, fair, secure and transparent. to be.
Asked by a shareholder last week why his bank had succumbed to “the lies of the far left” about Georgia’s new voting laws, David Solomon, CEO of Goldman Sachs, said he had not commented on an individual state’s legislation, but signed a letter. supporting “the fundamental and fundamental right to vote”.