Big Tech takes aim at Georgia’s controversial new voting law
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Tech companies publicly condemned Georgia’s new voter law that will limit absentee voting and is expected to disproportionately depress voting by communities of color.
Republican Gov. Brian Kemp last week signed the 98-page bill, the Election Integrity Act, into state law. It limits the number of drop boxes for absentee ballots, requires voters to provide state identification to get absentee ballots, and prohibits unauthorized people from offering food or water to voters waiting in line.
The law follows record turnout and submission of mail-in ballots during the 2020 presidential election in Georgia as well as the later senate runoffs. Following the election, many Republicans, echoing then-President Donald Trump, falsely claimed that the presidential election had been stolen.
Now, major tech firms, which have become increasingly vocal over political and social issues, are joining the growing list of corporations denouncing new restrictions on voting. But most of them avoided calling out Georgia directly and made no mention of boycotts, which some had threatened in 2016 after states like North Carolina, Indiana, and Georgia had passed or were considering so-called transgender bathroom bills.
Here’s what the tech companies said.
On March 16, before the governor had signed the bill into law, Salesforce took to Twitter to oppose the bill. “A person’s right to cast their ballot is the foundation of our democracy. Georgia HB 531 would limit trustworthy, safe & equal access to voting by restricting early voting & eliminating provisional ballots. That’s why Salesforce opposes HB 531 as it stands,” the company said in a tweet.
On Thursday, a spokesperson provided the followed up, saying in a statement: “We believe that an individual’s right to cast a ballot in an election is fundamental to a functioning democracy. We believe that it is stronger when more eligible people participate. And in the U.S., that means that every eligible person must have equal access to the ballot box. We also believe that our democracy works when elections are secure and trustworthy, when they are fair, and when they are free.”
But unlike it did in 2016 when it opposed Georgia’s proposed bathroom bill, Salesforce hasn’t threatened to pull its business out of the state.
Apple CEO Tim Cook on Thursday released a statement saying that voting should be easier not harder.
“The right to vote is fundamental in a democracy. American history is the story of expanding the right to vote to all citizens, and Black people, in particular, have had to march, struggle and even give their lives for more than a century to defend that right. Apple believes that, thanks in part to the power of technology, it ought to be easier than ever for every eligible citizen to exercise their right to vote. We support efforts to ensure that our democracy’s future is more hopeful and inclusive than its past.”
“We’ve long created tools and resources to make it easier for people to vote. But knowing how to vote depends on people being able to vote. We’re concerned about efforts to restrict voting at a local level and we strongly support the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.”
Roy Austin, Facebook’s new deputy general counsel for civil rights, championed making voting more accessible while also touting Facebook’s related efforts. In a statement, he said:
“We support making voting as accessible and broad-based as possible and oppose efforts to make it harder for people to vote. We believe that voting is voice which is why we helped over 4 million people register to vote last year and tens of millions more get access to reliable information about how to cast a ballot in their state.”
In a blog post on Wednesday, Microsoft president Brad Smith took aim at the law’s restrictions on absentee and provisional ballots as well as the limits on ballot drop-off boxes.
“We are concerned by the law’s impact on communities of color, on every voter, and on our employees and their families,” he wrote. “We share the views of other corporate leaders that it’s not only right but essential for the business community to stand together in opposition to the harmful provisions and other similar legislation that may be considered elsewhere.”
Cisco CEO and chairman Chuck Robbins on Wednesday tweeted his thoughts on the matter.
“Voting is a fundamental right in our democracy. Our vote is our voice, and everyone deserves the opportunity to be heard. Governments should be working to make it easier to vote, not harder. Ensuring equal #VotingRights isn’t a political issue, it’s an issue of right and wrong,” he said.
Arvind Krishna, IBM’s chairman and CEO, released the following statement Thursday.
“IBM believes that fair and equal access to voting is critical to our democracy. We urge elected officials nationwide to pursue policies that promote voter participation and build confidence in our voting infrastructure through processes that are fair, reliable and secure.”
Jessica Herrera-Flanigan, Twitter’s vice president of public policy of the Americas, condemned the Georgia law directly in a statement.
“Voting should be accessible to everyone who is eligible. It is critical that we collectively oppose voter suppression and promote voting access and election transparency. The efforts in Georgia and elsewhere are a dangerous step backwards.”