Georgia Religion Leaders Name for House Depot Boycott of Electoral Regulation

A grand coalition of black religious leaders in Georgia, representing more than 1,000 churches in the state, called for a boycott of Home Depot Tuesday, arguing that the company has shed its responsibilities as a good corporate citizen by not pushing back the state’s new franchise.

The boycott call, led by Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, who oversees all 534 African Methodist episcopal churches in Georgia, is one of the first major steps in putting significant economic pressure on companies to speak out more loudly against Republican efforts in Georgia as a whole Land to impose new voting restrictions.

“We don’t think this is just a political matter,” Bishop Jackson said in an interview. “This is about securing the future of this democracy, and the greatest right in this democracy is the right to vote.”

Home Depot, Jackson said, “showed indifference, no response to calls, not only from clergy, but from other groups to speak out against this legislation.”

While boycotts can be challenging in a way that puts great financial pressure on large corporations, the call nonetheless marks a new phase in the struggle for voting rights in Georgia, in which many Democrats and civil rights groups have been reluctant to support boycotts they risk unfair collateral damage to company workers.

But the Coalition of Faith Leaders pointed to the use of boycotts in the civil rights movement when the rights of black voters were threatened, and said their call to action was intended as a “warning shot” for other state lawmakers.

“This is not just a Georgia problem; we are talking about a threatened democracy in America, ”said Rev. Timothy McDonald III, pastor of the First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta. “We must use whatever influence and strength, spiritual strength we have, including our dollars, to help people understand that this is a national campaign.”

Home Depot is headquartered in Georgia and is one of the largest employers in the state. But while other major Georgia corporations like Coca-Cola and Delta have spoken out against the state’s new electoral law, Home Depot only made a statement this month that “the best approach for us is to continue to underscore our beliefs.” that all elections should be accessible, fair and safe. “

While one of the company’s founders, Arthur Blank, did not publicly wade into the fray, he said on a phone call with fellow executives this month that he supports voting rights. Another founder, Ken Langone, is a vocal supporter of former President Donald J. Trump.

The struggle for the right to vote

After former President Donald J. Trump made false claims over the past few months that the 2020 elections were stolen from him, Republican lawmakers in many states have moved forward to pass laws that make voting harder and how elections are conducted, which changes what Democrats and Democrats even frustrated some election officials in their own party.

    • A central theme: The rules and procedures of elections have become central to American politics. According to the research institute Brennan Center for Justice, the legislature had passed 22 new laws in 14 states by May 14, in order to make the voting process more difficult.
    • The basic measures: Restrictions vary by state, but may include restricting the use of ballot boxes, adding identification requirements for voters requesting postal ballot papers, and removing local laws that allow automatic registration for postal voting.
    • Other extreme measures: Some measures go beyond changing voting behavior, including adjusting electoral college and judicial voting rules, cracking down on citizen-led electoral initiatives, and banning private donations that provide resources to conduct elections.
    • Recoil: These Republican efforts have resulted in Democrats in Congress finding a way to pass federal voting laws. A major voting bill was passed in the House of Representatives in March, but it has faced difficult obstacles in the Senate, including from Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia. Republicans have remained closed to the proposal, and even if the bill went into effect, it would most likely face major legal challenges.
    • Florida: Measures here include restricting the use of mailboxes, introducing additional identification requirements for postal ballot papers, requiring voters to request a postal vote at every election, restricting who can pick up and dropping ballots, and further empowering partisan observers during the vote counting process.
    • Texas: The Texas Democrats successfully blocked the state’s extensive voting law known as SB 7 in a nightly strike and launched a large nationwide registration program that focuses on racially diverse communities. But the state’s Republicans have promised to return in a special session and pass a similar voting bill. SB 7 includes new postal voting restrictions; granted the party election observers a broad new autonomy and authority; escalated penalties for mistakes or offenses by election officials; and banned both drive-through voting and 24-hour voting.
    • Other states: Arizona’s Republican-controlled legislature passed a law that would restrict the distribution of postal ballots. The bill, which provides for voters to be removed from the state’s standing pre-election list if they do not cast a vote at least every two years, may be just the first in a series of voting restrictions enacted there. Georgia Republicans passed sweeping new electoral laws in March that restrict ballot boxes and make the distribution of water within certain boundaries of a polling station a misdemeanor. And Iowa has imposed new restrictions, including shortening the deadline for early voting and voting in person on election day.

Mr Jackson said Home Depot’s faith leaders called for four specific measures: speak out against Georgia’s electoral law, publicly oppose similar bills in other states, offer support for the John Lewis Voting Rights Act in Congress, and support litigation that does Georgia law.

Not all constituencies are on board in a boycott.

“I cannot fully support a boycott within Georgia,” said Aunna Dennis, executive director of the Georgia Chapter of Common Cause. “The boycott hurts the working class. But companies have to be held accountable for where they invest their dollars. “

Faith leaders confirmed the concerns of leaders, both Democrats and Republicans, about the effects of boycotts, but felt the stakes were high enough.

“It is unfortunate for those affected, but how many millions will be affected if they do not have the right to vote?” said Jamal H. Bryant, the senior pastor of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia.

“And when we weigh it, we winkly understand that this is a necessary evil,” said Dr. Bryant. “But it has to happen for the good to happen.”