Georgia’s new voting law has become mired in controversy, as opponents of the law claim it will further voter suppression, and supporters of the new law argue that it will bring back confidence in elections. Dozens of companies that do business in Georgia have aired concerns about the newly passed bill, and Major League Baseball announced it was moving the All-Star game out of the state in protest of the controversial legislation. For access to live and exclusive video from CNBC subscribe to CNBC PRO: https://cnb.cx/2NGeIvi
U.S. corporations face growing pressure and threats of boycotts to publicly oppose Republican-backed election legislation in Georgia and other states that critics say harm the voting rights of Black Americans.
The opposition intensified on Friday when Major League Baseball announced it would no longer hold the 2021 All-Star Game in Atlanta this summer, with commissioner Robert Manfred saying the league “fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box.”
GOP Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp last week signed an election overhaul bill into law that adds new identification requirements for absentee voting while giving the state legislature increased oversight on how elections are run.
The legislation prohibits third-party groups from giving food or water to voters who are waiting in line and places strict guidelines on the availability and location of ballot drop boxes. It also mandates two Saturdays of early voting leading up to general elections. Only one day was previously required.
Civil rights groups and activists have pressured some of Georgia’s biggest corporations, including Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola, to oppose the law. Coke and Delta did not vocally oppose the legislation prior to its passage, but their CEOs have since condemned the law.
Following the bill’s passage, pressure on companies started to increase after Merck CEO Ken Frazier and other Black executives organized a public campaign to urge firms to call out the legislation. Many companies had taken broad stances in support of voting rights but sought to avoid taking specific positions on the Georgia law.
It’s unclear whether a business community backlash will change the outcome in Georgia, where the law has been passed. Civil rights groups have challenged it in court and President Joe Biden said the U.S. Justice Department would examine the law, which he called an “atrocity.”
Coke CEO James Quincey told CNBC on Wednesday the company had “always opposed this legislation” and called it “wrong.”
“Now that it’s passed, we’re coming out more publicly,” Quincey said.
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