Protesters protest House Bill 531 in Atlanta last month. The bill, which has been signed into law, has been criticized by voting rights activists and companies for restricting access to polls and disproportionately harming color voters. Megan Varner / Getty Images Hide caption

Toggle labeling

Megan Varner / Getty Images

Protesters protest House Bill 531 in Atlanta last month. The bill, which has been signed into law, has been criticized by voting rights activists and companies for restricting access to polls and disproportionately harming color voters.

Megan Varner / Getty Images

A week after the bill was signed, the Republican-led vote in Georgia has been criticized by a growing number of corporate votes, including several of the state’s best-known corporations and Major League Baseball.

Critics of the legislation say it will limit voter access and disproportionately affect black people, with President Biden calling them “Jim Crow in the 21st century”.

In an interview with ESPN on Wednesday, Biden said he will be helping MLB move its All-Star game out of Atlanta in July. Tony Clark, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, first got to the heart of the idea last week, and this is not without precedent. As ESPN noted, the NBA moved its 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte after North Carolina passed a bill to limit anti-discrimination protection.

“I think professional athletes today are incredibly responsible,” said Biden. “I would strongly support them in this. People look at them. They are leaders. … This is Jim Crow on steroids, what they are doing in Georgia and 40 other states.”

The Georgia governor signs an election revision, including changes to the postal vote

The 98-page bill introduces new restrictions on mail-in and weekend voting, while expanding some voters’ access to early personal elections. It has become a focal point in national voting rights talks as more than 40 states consider bills to raise barriers to voting.

While many Republicans, including Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, say the state’s legislation will help ensure electoral integrity, civil rights activists say it disenfranchises voters of color. Three groups have already filed lawsuits alleging certain parts of the law are discriminatory and unconstitutional, arguing that many of the changes are disproportionately harmful to black voters, Georgia Public Broadcasting reported.

Dozens of companies have joined this criticism in the past few days, including some that may have been boycotted by proxies for failing to speak more forcefully before the law was passed. These include Delta Air Lines and the Coca-Cola Co., headquartered in Atlanta.

Officials from these two companies said they had worked with elected officials from both parties to provide feedback during the legislative process and oppose measures that would restrict access to voting, and they would continue to push for voting rights locally and nationally to protect.

James Quincey, CEO and chairman of Coca-Cola, in a statement Thursday expressed disappointment with the outcome of the legislation, saying the company will continue to work with stakeholders to advocate change.

“Our focus now is on supporting federal legislation that protects access to elections and addresses the repression of voters across the country,” he said. “We all have a duty to protect everyone’s right to vote, and we will continue to stand up for what is right in Georgia and the US.”

Biden signals support for voting rights

Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta, called the final bill unacceptable and wrote in a memo to staff on Wednesday that “the entire rationale for this bill was based on a lie: that there was widespread electoral fraud in Georgia in 2020 “, a claim that has been repeatedly debunked.

“Now that we have time to fully understand everything that is in the bill, along with discussions with executives and staff in the black community, it is evident that the bill contains provisions that would make many underrepresented voters, especially blacks Voters, make it harder to move. ” their constitutional right to choose their representatives, “he said.” That is wrong.

Addressing the backlash from companies in an interview with CNBC on Wednesday, the Georgia governor said the legislation will give people more opportunities to vote on weekends and increase the number of dropboxes nationwide, as the law requires every county has at least one.

He also denied characterizing a broad section of the bill that criminalized the distribution of food or drink to queuing voters, saying the provision was only applicable within 150 feet of a polling station.

Kemp previously denounced the threat of a boycott in an interview with Fox News in which he said it was wrong “to punish hard-working Georgians, big institutions like the Masters [Tournament] and Major League Baseball and other things in our state that, by the way, employ a lot of hard-working Georgians trying to fight this pandemic. “

The Georgia election officer is responding to bills that would make voting difficult

Criticism of the legislation in the form of statements reiterating the importance of equitable access to voting has been voiced by other Georgia-based companies including UPS, Home Depot, Porsche Cars North America and the Atlanta Falcons, according to CNBC .

It also comes from outside the state. Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, denounced the legislation in a statement to CNN Business in which he said that “the company’s employees span the United States and, as capitals debate electoral law, we believe that voting is accessible and must be just “.

Officials from Facebook, ViacomCBS, Citigroup, Cisco and pharmaceutical company Merck all issued statements reiterating their support for fair access to voting.

Microsoft President Brad Smith explained his opposition to certain elements of the legislation in a lengthy blog post in which he stated: “We believe that it is important for companies and executives to study the 98-page law further, to take a substantive approach to pursue and speak out. ” our views together. “

And on Wednesday, 72 prominent black executives did just that by posting an open letter titled “The Fierce Urgency IS Now” in a full-page ad in the New York Times. The letter condemned Georgian law and others who like it, calling on “business leaders everywhere to speak out against efforts to make it harder for Americans to vote”.

“As black business leaders, in the face of this growing threat to our nation’s democratic values, we cannot sit in silence and allow Americans’ fundamental right to vote for whoever they vote for to be trampled again,” they wrote.

The campaign is led by former American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault and current Merck CEO Ken Frazier. Fortune described the signatories of the letter as representing the “Who’s Who of Black Corporate America”.