The statement was signed by multinational corporations such as Amazon, Facebook and Goldman Sachs, wealthy businessmen such as Michael Bloomberg and Warren Buffett, major law firms, NGOs and celebrities such as George Clooney, Paula Abd and Naomi Campbell.
“We must all feel a responsibility to defend electoral rights and oppose any legislation or measure that prevents voters from getting a fair and equal opportunity to vote,” the text acknowledges. It was published in the New York Times and The Washington Post.
The initiative was launched by former American Express CEO Kenneth Chennault and Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, who are both African-Americans. The two are mobilizing the business world after legislation is passed against election fraud in the southern state of Georgia, for example by better verifying the identity of those who vote by mail. Critics say this Republican majority rule fundamentally limits African American voters’ access to the polls.
The new law led to strong criticism and boycott calls were heard from the economic sector and the sports world. For example, Major League Baseball the MLB announced that its finals will not be held in Atlanta, the capital of Georgia. Actor Will Smith will also not be filming his next film on the history of slavery in the United States – as planned – in Georgia.
Several large corporations in Georgia, such as Delta and Coca-Cola, have come under fire for not speaking out about the legislation. In the end, business leaders expressed their disdain, which in turn led to criticism from the Republican side.
For example, Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has called on companies not to engage in politics, especially when it comes to “very controversial issues”.
Georgia is one of the states that helped Joe Biden win his election last year, in part because a historically large number of black voters were drawn to the polls. Similar statutory texts are also being prepared in Arizona, Texas, Florida and Michigan.
The controversial laws come after former President Donald Trump did not admit his defeat and insisted that the Democrats stole the election from him.