On March 25th, behind closed doors, surrounded by six white men, under a painting of a slave plantation, Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed into law SB 202, one of the worst pieces of voter suppression legislation since the Jim Crow era. As the bill was being signed, Georgia State Rep. Park Cannon—a Black woman—was arrested for simply knocking on Kemp’s door so she could advocate for her constituents. The imagery was as clear as the intentions of this legislation: to exclude and silence Georgia’s underrepresented communities—Black, Brown, young, and first-time voters.
Predicated on baseless claims of electoral fraud in the 2020 election cycle and rooted in white supremacy, SB 202 is just one of more than 250 voter suppression bills introduced in 47 states across the country. After unprecedented turnout in the 2020 election cycle, the GOP is doing everything they can to diminish our collective power.
SB 202 is Jim Crow 2.0 and lays out voter suppression tactics akin to the poll tax, including:
Limiting ballot dropbox availability and mandating that the dropboxes be guarded by a security guard rather than a camera
Reducing the voting time period for runoff elections
Creating at least six new misdemeanor and felony crimes for activities associated with the act of voting, including line warming by nonpartisan volunteers and the collection of completed absentee ballot applications by third parties, such as voter engagement organizations
Adding new photo ID requirements for absentee voting
Banning mobile polling places
Allowing a single person to legally challenge the voter registration of an unlimited number of people, potentially resulting in thousands of voters purged from the rolls
Allowing a single person to legally challenge the rights of an unlimited number of voters to cast their ballot.
With 364,000 Georgians frivolously challenged in the January runoff, this could result in thousands of uncounted ballots in future elections.
We need to make clear to those in the corridors of power—from legislative chambers to boardrooms—that we will not tolerate being stripped of our right to vote. We are targeting Georgia-based corporations who, in the past, have made a public show of supporting voting rights, and the rights of Black voters in particular, while continuing to make political donations to vote-suppressing legislators. We’ve been calling these companies out, demanding they take a stand for voting rights, and our tactics worked.
The CEOs of Delta and Coca-Cola—two of our campaign targets—released public statements opposing SB 202, with Coca-Cola’s CEO going so far as to publicly support federal voting rights legislation. Patagonia also released a strong statement outlining three ways their corporate peers can take action to support voting rights, and more than 100 corporate giants, including Amazon, Netflix, Google, and Starbucks, signed a two-page statement published in The New York Times and The Washington Post opposing “any discriminatory legislation or measures that restrict or prevent any eligible voter from having an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot.” While this is progress, our fight is far from over and we must keep up the pressure.
We are asking corporations to:
Create a formal, permanent policy to cease direct or indirect funding to any legislator that supports voter suppression, opposes voting rights legislation, or otherwise undermines our democracy (see here for an example of a recent precedent of such a policy).
Withdraw from any industry associations or PAC that refuses to institute the same policy.
Publicly support HR 1 and HR 4 and use the full force of their government relations operations to pass federal voting rights legislation.
The major owners of these companies are equally complicit in the rise of Jim Crow 2.0 and must be held accountable. Every year the shareholders of mega-corporations like Coca-Cola, Delta, Home Depot, Primerica, Southern Company, Aflac, and Delta vote to approve the boards of directors who are responsible for setting policy around political contributions.
Asset managers like BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street, Fidelity, and Georgia’s own Invesco, collectively own billions of dollars of shares in these corporations and cannot hide their outsized culpability for the outcomes in Georgia and the strategic silencing of Black voters. Every year, including this one, investors have the opportunity to ensure that their capital is no longer used to invest in white supremacy.
This year, we demand they step up to the moment to undo the damage they’ve done by:
Voting out the directors that failed to ensure that there was a political spending policy in place to prevent supporting politicians that undermine our democracy and suppress the political voice of Black people.
Voting to support political spending disclosure resolutions that ensure potential risks are transparent to investors.
Following the proxy voting guidelines put forth by Majority Action and SEIU Capital Stewardship.
New Georgia Project Action Fund
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