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U.S. companies are facing boycott threats, mounting pressure to take sides in the voting rights battle

U.S. companies are facing boycott threats

April 6, 2021:-U.S. corporations face boycott threats and pressure to oppose Republican-backed election legislation in Georgia publicly and other states that critics say harm the voting rights of Black Americans.

On Friday, the opposition intensified when Major League Baseball announced it would no longer hold the 2021 All-Star Game in Atlanta this summer, with commissioner Robert Manfred saying the league “fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions; to the ballot box.”

GOP Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp last week signed an election overhaul bill into law that adds new identification requirements for absentee voting while giving the state legislature increased oversight on how elections are run.

The legislation prohibits third-party groups from giving food or water to voters waiting in line and places strict guidelines on ballot drop boxes’ availability and location. It also mandates two Saturdays of early voting leading up to general elections. Only one day was previously required.

On Wednesday, Coke CEO James Quincey told CNBC that the company had “always opposed this legislation” and called it “wrong.”

“Now that it’s passed, we’re coming out more publicly,” Quincey said.

In November, Biden became the first Democrat since 1992 to win Georgia. Voters also elected two Democrats to the Senate, Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, in runoff elections in January. Former President Donald Trump and other Republicans have falsely claimed rampant voter fraud in Georgia’s elections last year.

AT&T is based in Texas but gave money to Kemp’s campaign and cosponsors of the legislation. The company’s CEO John Stankey told CNBC, “We understand that election laws are complicated, not our company’s expertise and ultimately the responsibility of elected officials. But, as a company, we have a responsibility to engage. For this reason, we are working together with other businesses through groups like the Business Roundtable to support efforts to enhance every person’s ability to vote.”

Voting rights activist and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams this week urged critics not to boycott Georgia’s major companies yet over their failure to oppose the election law. Instead, Abrams said companies should have a chance to compete in the direction publicly and support federal election legislation before getting met with a boycott.

“The companies that stood silently by or gave mealy-mouthed responses during the debate were wrong,” Abrams told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “What people want to know now is where they stand on this fundamental issue of voting rights.”

Some faith leaders in Georgia have called for an April 7 boycott of Coke, Delta, and Home Depot, according to the AJC. However, the religious leaders have suggested the embargo could be avoided if the companies take further stands, like calling on lawmakers in other states to pull legislative proposals that they say would restrict voting access.

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