Enterprise Coalitions to Communicate Out In opposition to Voting Restrictions in Texas

Corporations across the country are at the center of a swirling partisan debate over voting rights. With Republicans pushing laws in almost every state that would make it difficult for some people to vote, companies are under pressure from both sides. Democratic activists and many established business leaders are calling on companies to oppose the new laws. At the same time, a growing chorus of high-ranking Republicans are urging American companies to keep quiet.

On Thursday, Florida Republicans passed a new bill that would, among other things, restrict voting by mail, restrict the use of dropboxes, and ban measures that help people in line to vote. It was passed just weeks after more than 400 companies issued a national statement supporting expanded access to voting and implicitly criticizing the restrictive efforts. Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, is expected to sign the state bill.

In the past, opposition from large corporations has helped suppress restrictive legislation at the state level, and many companies have spoken out on voting issues.

But as Republicans step up their attacks on “bright corporate hypocrites,” as Senator Marco Rubio put it, who criticize the party’s agenda, many other corporations are cautious. After companies like Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola publicly violated the electoral law passed by Republicans in Georgia in March, Florida Republican Rubio condemned them in a video on Twitter, calling for former President Donald J. Trump a boycott.

Shortly thereafter, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, urged the business leaders to “stay out of politics.” And for the past few days, Republican Senator Ted Cruz and Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott have criticized corporations for supporting the Democratic agenda.

The Fair Elections Texas letter has been in the works for weeks as a group of political activists, Mr. Kirk and coalition members including Patagonia tried to get companies to sign it. National organizations like the Civic Alliance and the Leadership Now Project also helped corral companies.

“We stand together as an impartial coalition calling on all elected leaders in Texas to support reforms that make democracy more accessible and against changes that would restrict voters’ access to the ballot,” the letter said. “We urge business and citizens to join us while we urge lawmakers to uphold our always elusive core democratic principle: equality.”

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