Businesses across the country are at the center of a swirling partisan debate over voting rights. With Republicans in nearly every state promoting legislation that would make it more difficult for some people to vote, businesses from both sides are under pressure. Democratic activists, along with many mainstream business leaders, are calling on companies to oppose the new laws. At the same time, a growing chorus of senior Republicans are telling corporate America to be silent.
On Thursday, Republicans in Florida passed a new bill that would restrict postal voting, restrict the use of dropboxes, and ban actions to help people queuing to vote, among other restrictions. Its expiration came just weeks after more than 400 companies issued a national statement supporting wider access to votes and implicitly criticizing the restrictive efforts. Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, is expected to sign the state bill.
In the past, big business opposition has helped squash restrictive state-level legislation, and many companies have spoken out on the voting issue.
But while Republicans are arousing their attacks on "corporate hypocrites," as Senator Marco Rubio put it, who criticize the party's agenda, many other companies are proceeding with caution. After companies including Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola publicly opposed the voting bill passed by Georgian Republicans in March, Florida Republican Mr. Rubio denounced them in a video on Twitter, and former President Donald J. Trump called for a boycott.
Shortly thereafter, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, told chief executives to "stay out of politics." And in recent days, Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott have criticized companies and accused them of supporting the Democratic agenda.
The Fair Elections Texas letter has been weeks in the works as a group of political agents, Mr. Kirk and coalition members, including Patagonia, tried to persuade companies to sign up. National organizations such as the Civic Alliance and the Leadership Now project also helped bring companies together.
“ We stand together, as an impartial coalition, calling on all elected leaders in Texas to support reforms that make democracy more accessible and oppose changes that would limit eligible voters' access to the ballot & # 39; & # 39; reads the letter. "We urge business and civic leaders to join us, while calling on lawmakers to uphold our ever-elusive core democratic tenet: equality."