As the nation continues to grapple with efforts from Republican state legislators around the country to impose new restrictions around voting, four corporations have newly spoken out against these suppressive plans in connection to moves from Texas Republicans in particular. This week, the Texas state Senate approved SB7, a piece of legislation that would “limit extended early voting hours, prohibit drive-thru voting and make it illegal for local election officials to proactively send applications to vote by mail to voters, even if they qualify,” as explained by The Texas Tribune.
Drive-thru voting — which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like and involves casting ballots with the assistance of poll workers who meet voters in their cars — was used during the 2020 election cycle in Harris County, which includes Houston, amidst ongoing concerns over the spread of COVID-19 at in-person gatherings like those at polling places. Right-wing interests tried to get all ballots that had been cast at these drive-thru polling places thrown out, but courts rebuffed these efforts. Harris County leans Democratic, and Joe Biden won it by a considerable margin in 2020, although Trump won the state overall.
In other words, restrictions on procedures like drive-thru voting could disproportionately impact voters in high-population areas that often vote for Democrats, and this de facto targeting of marginalized communities and others fits into a similar pattern from Republicans elsewhere. In Georgia, for instance, GOP state authorities recently enacted a ban on mobile polling places, which were used during the 2020 election cycle in Fulton County, an Atlanta-area jurisdiction with a high Black population.
Discussing Texas legislation, Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell — whose company is based in Texas — commented as follows this week:
‘Free, fair, equitable access to voting is the foundation of American democracy. Those rights – especially for women, communities of color – have been hard-earned. Governments should ensure citizens have their voices heard. HB6 does the opposite, and we are opposed to it.’
Agree. Free, fair, equitable access to voting is the foundation of American democracy. Those rights – especially for women, communities of color – have been hard-earned. Governments should ensure citizens have their voices heard. HB6 does the opposite, and we are opposed to it. https://t.co/srLRfGxgZF
— Michael Dell (@MichaelDell) April 1, 2021
On a similar note, in reference to the state Senate legislation, American Airlines (which is also based in Texas) commented as follows this week:
‘We are strongly opposed to this bill and others like it. As a Texas-based business, we must stand up for the rights of our team members and customers who call Texas home, and honor the sacrifices made by generations of Americans to protect and expand the right to vote.’
Meanwhile, Southwest Airlines added:
‘The right to vote is foundational to our democracy and a right coveted by all. We believe every voter should have a fair opportunity to let their voice be heard.’
And on a similar note, AT&T said that they would work with an organization known as the Business Roundtable “to support efforts to enhance every person’s ability to vote.” They added as follows:
‘We understand that election laws are complicated, not our company’s expertise and ultimately the responsibility of elected officials. But, as a company, we have a responsibility to engage.’
Georgia Republicans have also faced corporate criticism over suppressive legislation from companies like Delta Air Lines, which is based in the state.