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The recent passage of new Georgia laws that effectively limit minority voting rights is getting pushback from America’s corporations. Citizen pressure is following a decades-long economic reality: that pressure from consumers of corporate America can sometimes bring about the fastest policy change, especially when focused on bigotry and prejudice.

CocaCola can logo image. Courtesy of Unsplash

At first, CEOs including those of Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola (whose corporate headquarters are based in Atlanta) came out with tepid comments about the new law. It was signed by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp last week, and their early neutral statements said that there were some good aspects of the bill.

The law restricts voting rights, limits voting sites, voting days, and hours, and requires government ID’s to request absentee ballots. It will allow the state legislature to intervene in local county elections if they don’t like the results. Election experts say that it appears to be aimed at minority and Black voters as well as poor urban counties and rural counties.

President Joe Biden was blunt, calling it “21st Century Jim Crow”.

But just in the past week, more than 70 Black corporate executives began to call on corporate America to speak up not just in Georgia, but across the nation, condemning the new restrictions. They took this stance not just as a moral appeal, but reminding corporate America of the economic consequences of not speaking up. Voting rights activists have raised the possibility of boycotts, which had historical success during the 50’s and 60’s era of the civil rights movement.

Georgia sports teams joined the call to condemn the new law. Delta and Coca-Cola CEOs finally responded this week with stronger statements, saying the law was “unacceptable”.

Delta plane. Image by Delta News Hub

Delta CEO Ed Bastian added that this law “does not match Delta’s values.” He added that Georgia’s law was based on a lie of “widespread voter fraud” and “this is simply not true.”

Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey strengthened his rejection by saying “Let me be crystal clear and unequivocal that this legislation is unacceptable.”

The “Big Lie” that the 2020 election held massive voter fraud continues to fuel disinformation and political conspiracy theories.  (Fact check: nearly sixty courts have ruled, that there was no voter fraud, and Christopher Krebs, former United States Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency – the man charged with ensuring the security of our elections,  has said that it was the safest, most secure election in American history.)

Georgia’s actions are not occurring as a singular act of voter suppression. This legislation appears to be part of a sweeping Republican strategy of systemic racism, to limit voting rights among the audiences they have deemed less likely to vote for them.

GOP legislators in 41 states have introduced bills to limit voting rights all across the country. This includes Colorado, where five bills introduced by GOP members, designed to complicate election confidence and insert state legislative control over local elections, were killed in committee earlier this week.