Business leaders in Wisconsin have now banded together for a show of opposition to suppressive new election restrictions making their way through the state legislature. If enacted, the proposed restrictions would “limit drop boxes, create more paperwork for absentee voters and require disabled voters to provide copies of their IDs in more cases,” as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel explains, and the business leaders who are speaking out against the proposed measures include figures from the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team and the Weyco Group, which designs and distributes footwear.
More than 60 Wisconsin business owners and leaders have come out in opposition to GOP voter restrictions, saying they'd "create steep barriers to voting, particularly targeting voters with disabilities, elderly voters, and Black and Brown communities." https://t.co/7PdtuUFR2N
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) June 15, 2021
In total, over 60 leading figures from the Wisconsin business world signed onto a new joint statement in which they ominously observed that certain new GOP-backed proposals would “create steep barriers to voting, particularly targeting voters with disabilities, elderly voters, and Black and Brown communities.” The business leaders also said that they “believe that every Wisconsin voter should have an equal opportunity to participate in our democracy and make their voice heard, regardless of their race, background, or zip code.” Imposing punitive new requirements like new limits on drop boxes for mail-in ballots would make voting potentially more difficult for elderly, low income, or otherwise possibly disadvantaged voters.
Arvind Gopalratnam, who works as vice president of corporate social responsibility for the Milwaukee Bucks, commented as follows regarding the team’s involvement in the push against the proposed restrictions:
‘Our role is to continue to amplify [community leaders]… to bring visibility to those voices. That’s the role we feel we play with our microphone, with our platform, is to bring valuable education to the table for people in our community to become aware of the processes and systems that exist.’
Cory Nettles, who leads a Milwaukee-based investment fund, observed on a related note that if “you create a culture and an environment that is hostile to civil rights and civil liberties, that makes it harder for you to attract and to retain talent.” Republicans have frequently cast their proposed new election restrictions in terms of election security, but in actuality, no systematic election integrity problems have been uncovered with the systems that were in place for the 2020 election cycle — but Republicans continue trying to make it tougher to vote anyway.
Former President Barack Obama has spoken about the need that he sees for corporate interests to make opposition to voter suppression known. As he recently put it, the issue “transcends policy,” adding that it “really has to do with the basic rules by which we all have agreed to keep this diverse, multiracial democracy functioning. Are we going to stick to those rules or are we going to start rigging the game in a way that breaks it? And that’s not going to be good for business, not to mention not good for our soul.”