Michigan executives sign letter opposing voting restriction efforts

About three dozen executives from some of Michigan’s largest companies signed a letter on Tuesday saying they oppose efforts to make it harder to vote.

The letter comes as Michigan’s Republican-controlled legislature is weighing a suite of new voting restrictions in one of the most closely fought battleground states in America. Among the letter’s signatories were the CEOs of the American automotive titans Ford and General Motors, as well as executives from Quicken Loans, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, and all four major Detroit sports teams.

Michigan Republicans are considering proposals to require voters to provide ID when they submit a mail-in ballot, place new limits on drop boxes and prohibit election officials from proactively mailing out mail-in ballot applications, or even providing voters an online link to an application, according to Bridge Michigan. One measure also blocks officials from paying for the return postage on mail-in ballots, 他の対策の中で.

While the Michigan governor, Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, is likely to veto the measures, Republicans are already planning to deploy a maneuver that would allow them to go around a veto.

The letter does not address specific bills, but instead lays out support for eight broad principles around new voting laws. One of them says “government must avoid actions that reduce participation in elections – particularly among historically disenfranchised communities, persons with disabilities, older adults, racial minorities and low-income voters”.

“Our democracy is strongest when we have the greatest level of participation by our citizens in a representative government” is another one of the principles.

The letter comes amid growing pushback from American businesses as state Republicans have moved to make it harder to vote. The decision to release the letter while the Michigan proposals are still under consideration is significant. In Georgia, which passed new voting restrictions last month, companies such as Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines faced criticism for waiting until after the measure was signed into law to issue some of their most forceful statements. By speaking out earlier in Michigan, the companies are signaling a willingness to use their economic and political capital to influence the shaping of the bill.

Nancy Wang, the executive director of Voters Not Politicians, a civic action group in ミシガン, said the letter was a “great sign” but urged the companies to go further and take action.

“We have an opportunity here for the corporations to act on their convictions before the bills are passed,” she said in an interview. “The letter itself won’t change behavior in our legislature. This is a power [企業] hold, exclusively. They are the biggest donors to campaigns. They’ve shown this past year that when they actually put their money where their mouth is, when they act according to their values that does change legislator behavior.”

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a professor at the Yale School of Management who helped organize a call of more than 100 executives on Saturday to discuss voting restrictions, said it was clear that Georgia had been a kind of wake-up call for companies.

He expected there would be more statements from businesses condemning efforts to make it harder to vote. He added that about half of the companies on the Saturday call said they would consider withdrawing economic investment in states that passed restrictive voting policies. There was a “universal sentiment”, Sonnenfeld said, for curtailing financial support for lawmakers who supported voting restrictions.

“The business community has gotten that warning shot, the volley over the bow, they no more can trust these GOP legislatures saying that it’s just cosmetic to reassure people who believe in the big lie," 彼は言った. “It’s a false premise. It’s not cosmetic, it’s damaging.”

Wang said swift and aggressive action in Michigan would go a long way towards stopping measures that would make it harder to vote.

“The sooner the better, 本音," 彼女は言いました. “There’s a lot of ideas being thrown around. There’s a lot of different actors … We can really stop this from proceeding any further in Michigan. But we need concerted corporate action now.”