August 5, 2021

Michigan-based Top Businesses Oppose Republican-supported Voting Bill

As the controversy bill of Republican-backed voting limits has been enacted in Georgia last month despite public criticism, more than 37 top companies based in Michigan started their campaign to oppose the bill. In a joint statement released from top executives of the companies on Tuesday, April 13, 2021, they agreed to oppose the controversial voting restriction bill. General Motors Co. (GM) and Ford Motor Co. (Ford) were among the Michigan-based key companies that came out in the support to oppose of the bill.   

Georgia Enacted the Bill

The bill was introduced after the former US president, Donald Trump had strongly persistent over the claim that his defeated in the November 2020 presidential election was due to widespread election frauds in some key federate states. Trump, who was a Republican candidate, lost to the incumbent US president, Joe Biden of the Democratic Party in the 2020 election; since then Trump alleged that the election was fraud and appealed to recount the votes in swing states such as Georgia and Michigan among others. Based on Trump’s claims, Republican lawmakers have proposed to put restriction in the voting in numerous states. Since 1992, Biden became the first Democrat to win Georgia and two Democrats namely Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are elected to the Senate, in runoff elections in January.  

Brian Kemp, the Governor of Georgia, signed the bill and enacted it into a law in the state last month, which brought several changes in the voting system and complicated process for absentee voting. According to the new act, it even prohibits any third-party groups distributing food or water to voters who are waiting in line to cast votes and other several restriction guidelines regarding the location of ballot drop boxes. With the enactment of the bill, many critics argued that the law would affect the Black American voters. Despite mounting pressure from civil rights groups to some of Georgia’s major companies such as including Delta Air Lines (Delta) and Coca-Cola (Coke), the businesses failed to publicly oppose the law prior to its enactment.

Michigan Businesses Oppose the Bill

Delta and Coke were sharply attacked by public organizations and civil society groups as the companies could not take a firm stance against the bill enactment. With the existing public pressure and the bill is very close to be on floor debate in Michigan soon, the top executives of 37 companies based on the state issued the statement opposing the controversy voting bill. The statement read, “Government must avoid actions that reduce participation in elections – particularly among historically disenfranchised communities.” The CEO of Ford, Jim Farley stated that the law “assure everyone who’s entitled to vote is able to exercise that freedom.” Apart from Farley, Mary Barra, CEO of GM; Jay Farmer, CEO of Rocket Companies Inc’s Quicken Loans; Swamy Kotagiri, CEO of Magna International had signed the joint statement.

Democratic Governor of the state, Gretchen Whitmer also shared her view that she would veto the bill. However, the Republican chairman of Michigan earlier suggested that the party would try to stop the veto citing the petition drive that allows the state constitution to by-pass the governor’s authority if a law gets support enough voter signatures. Considering the sentiment around the bill, Reuters reported that most of the CEOs were on the view that they would reexamine their donation for those candidates who supported the bill. Moreover, they also suggested that they would reconsider their business investment on those states supporting such measure.  

Many sport franchises based in the city also signed the joint statement. Some of the key CEOs of the companies are Rod Wood, CEO of the National Football League’s Detroit Lions; Arn Tellem, vice chairman of the National Basketball Association’s Detroit Pistons, and Christopher Ilitch, CEO of the company that owns Major League Baseball’s Detroit Tigers and the National Hockey League’s Detroit Red Wings.

Difference of the Bill Outlook

Many Republicans have explained that the voting legislation was necessary to curb frauds and their support in the bill was to restore “election integrity”. Despite lacking to prove with evidence, republicans backed Trump’s allegations about the election fraud in November 2020, which led to raise several voting concerns. Speaking at the latest hearing on the legislation, Marci McCarthy of the DeKalb County Republican Party stressed, “These bills are not about voter suppression. They’re about restoring fitness, faith and trust in elections,” as reported by the Journal-Constitution reported. However, several news media reported that some business leaders have shown their opposition to the bill in Texas.