More than 70 companies urge Senate to pass voting rights bill

·2 min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

A group of more than 70 US companies have urged the Senate to pass the For The People Act, a sweeping voting rights bill they argue is “one of the most significant pieces of legislation to strengthen our democracy since the Civil Rights era” and critical for their employees access’ to the ballot.

The pressure from businesses follows widespread criticism from major US companies against Republican-backed legislation in nearly every state that voting rights advocates warn will suppress voters and make it more difficult to vote.

Following the passage of a Georgia bill that places restrictions on early voting and hands more election authority to Republican lawmakers, among other measures, top companies publicly rebuked the law. Major League Baseball announced it would move its All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver in protest.

That corporate backlash drew Republican outrage, fuelling GOP lawmakers and governors in at least 14 states to pass 22 laws that undermine voting rights, according to an analysis from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law. That follows a flood of nearly 400 bills in the wake of GOP election losses and false “stolen election” narrative feeding into lawmakers’ pledges to protect “election integrity” and “voter confidence”.

“These bills work in stark contrast to our interests, and make it more difficult for Americans to have a say in key decisions from healthcare to the economy by limiting our ability to register to vote and cast a ballot early or by mail,” the companies wrote in their letter. “Voting is a fundamental right in our country, and it is up to our elected officials to protect it.”

Companies that joined the campaign include several banks and real estate groups, Ben & Jerry’s, the National Hockey League, Patagonia, JJ Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions, and websites Tumblr and Upworthy, among others.

The For The People Act proposes automatic voter registration and at least 15 consecutive days of early voting for federal elections, prohibits restrictive voter ID laws and standardises mail-in voting and ballot drop-boxes options.

It also would eliminate partisan gerrymandering and expose donors behind super PACs and “dark money” groups that provide financial engines for political campaigns and lobbying efforts.

Democratic lawmakers have hoped the measure would combat GOP-led efforts to consolidate electoral oversight, roll back or eliminate mail-in voting and early voting options.

The bill and a compromise proposal from moderate Democrat Joe Manchin face overwhelming Republican opposition in the evenly divided Senate.

“This is not a partisan issue,” the companies wrote. “The For the People Act is not about choosing one party or one issue over another, it is about common sense reforms that protect and expand our democracy, and put the power in the hands of the people. It is about reaffirming our founding principle that we can chart our own course as a nation.”

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