Major corporations are blasting Texas GOP's attempts to make it harder to vote

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Big businesses are responding to the threat of boycotts and putting pressure on state legislatures.

Big businesses with a significant presence in Texas are taking a page out of their Georgia counterparts' playbook and publicly opposing a voter suppression bills making their way through the Lone Star State's GOP-controlled Legislature.

The companies issuing statements on Thursday included American Airlines, Microsoft, Dell, and Southwest, which together employ thousands of Texans.

American Airlines condemned S.B. 7, which the Senate advanced in the wee hours of Thursday morning.

The legislation would require the disabled to provide written proof of disability in order to vote by mail, ban the drive-through voting process that more than 125,000 Texans used in 2020, and block local election officials from sending out unsolicited absentee ballot applications.

"We are strongly opposed to this bill and others like it," the airline, which is headquartered in Fort Worth, said in response. "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."

Microsoft issued a statement about Texas House bill H.B. 6, which, according to its text, relates to "election integrity and preservation of the purity of the ballot box through the prevention of fraud in the conduct of an election."

"We believe that the right to vote is the most cherished aspect of democracy, and that we should empower all Americans from all walks of life to register and vote conveniently, safely, and securely," the company said, noting it employs 1,500 people in the state. "We are concerned that H.B. 6 would prevent local election officials from proactively providing absentee ballot applications and ballot materials to all Texas voters."

Michael Dell, chairman and CEO of Dell, the Austin-based computer technology company, also came out against H.B. 6, tweeting, "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."

Meanwhile, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines told Forbes, "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. This right is essential to our nation's success." 

The statements from these major companies is part of a growing trend of Fortune 500 companies speaking out against the wave of voter suppression legislation Republicans are introducing in state legislatures across the country.

In Georgia, voting rights activists put pressure on those companies to speak out or face boycotts in response to the enactment of a law that mandates the presentation of ID to vote by mail, limits the use of ballot drop boxes, and gives the Legislature the ability to take over county election boards and exert more control over the running of elections. The law also makes it a crime to hand out food and drinks to voters waiting in long lines to vote.

The effort was successful in getting Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola — two of the biggest private employers in the Peach State — to release statements calling the Georgia law "unacceptable" and urging changes.

So far, however, Republicans in both Georgia and Texas are defending their voter suppression efforts, often with lies.

In response to statements issued by companies like Delta Air Lines and American Airlines, GOP legislatures raised the possibility of punishing them for speaking out.

The Georgia House passed a measure that would revoke from Delta a lucrative tax break on fuel, but the Senate did not vote on it before the legislative session ended.

The chair of the Dallas Republican Party suggested raising taxes on companies that oppose voter suppression.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.