“Voting rights becomes a new battleground for US companies”

Financial Times:

Voting rights activists in Georgia are piling pressure on companies including Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, Home Depot and UPS to come out against Republican-led efforts to restrict early and mail-in voting in the southern state. 

The campaign, which has included newspaper, billboard and online advertisements, as well as protests outside company headquarters, marks the latest test for corporate America after a year in which business leaders took high-profile stances against racism.

“Many of these same companies . . . made bold statements around racial equity. They had a commitment to racial equity, and healing a nation beyond racism,” said LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, one of the groups leading the campaign. 

“Now it makes me wonder: were their statements disingenuous? Were their statements just a marketing ploy?”…’

Bruce Freed, president of the Center for Political Accountability said companies were “wide open to the charge of hypocrisy,” noting the threat this posed to consumer-facing brands’ profits.

Coca-Cola was among the donors to the Georgia state senators who sponsored the contentious bills, he said, while Home Depot was one of 46 corporate donors to the Republican State Leadership Committee, which funnelled $144,700 to candidates in Georgia in the last election. 

Contacted by the FT, Delta and Home Depot emphasised their support for broad voter participation and for “secure” elections. UPS said it was “working to ensure equitable access to the polls and the integrity of the election process across the state”, and was supporting legislation that furthered those goals. Coca-Cola did not reply to a request for comment.

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