Michigan’s top elected Democrats call on businesses to fight restrictive voting bills

Apr 26, 2021 at 10:41 am
click to enlarge Polling station in Detroit. - Steve Neavling
Steve Neavling
Polling station in Detroit.

Michigan’s top statewide elected officials are calling on more businesses to speak out against Republican-sponsored bills that would curb voting access in Michigan and other states.

In an open letter to business leaders, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilcrhist II, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, and Attorney General Dana Nessel joined 53 other officials to applaud corporate executives who have already denounced the legislation gaining traction in GOP-controlled states.

“We are asking the business leaders in our states, and throughout the country, to add their voices to the growing chorus of corporations standing on the right side of history,” the letter states. “When the foundation of our democracy— the freedom of citizens in our states to cast their ballots— is under attack, it is powerful and important when Americans speak up, especially those in leadership positions.”

The leaders of three dozen major Michigan-based companies on April 13 admonished Republican-sponsored bills that would make it harder to vote.

The bills come amid false and discredited claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, when a record number of people voted.

The legislation in Michigan would require a photo ID to vote in person, prohibit clerks from providing prepaid postage on absentee ballot return envelopes, and restrict the hours to drop ballots in curbside boxes. The Secretary of State would be prevented from mailing unsolicited absentee ballot applications, as done in 2020, and voters would have to attach a copy of their photo ID to apply for an absentee ballot.

“Business leaders and corporate executives have been told to stay out of politics by those who want to see voting restrictions enacted in Michigan and elsewhere,” Nessel said in a statement Monday. “Every single one of us has a voice in this democracy and deterring people from using it undermines the foundation this country was built on. I will always speak out against attempts to make voting more difficult, applaud those who have already taken a stance and encourage others with a platform to do the same.” 

The movement to denounce restrictive voting rights bills began in Georgia, where state lawmakers pushed through legislation that would limit drop boxes, expanded the legislature’s power over elections, and impose strict identification requirements for absentee balloting.

“Companies, and the people who work for them, are vital parts of our communities,” the letter to businesses states. “We've seen the power of corporate leadership in the past on issues foundational to our democracy. We’ve seen corporations rightly rally to the side of equal rights and racial justice. We’ve worked with state and local business leaders to confront the economic struggles of a global pandemic. And now, we need more companies to add their public support for protecting voting rights.”

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