More than 90 CEOs and 30 other high ranking executives from America’s biggest corporations gathered in a first-of-its kind call over the weekend to discuss how to respond to changes in voting laws in several large states.
The zoom call came just days after Major League Baseball moved its all-star game out of Atlanta, GA amid a flurry of negative press surrounding Georgia’s new election laws.
According to reports, Kenneth Chenault, the former CEO of American Express, along with Ken Frazier, the CEO of Merck, urged business leaders to provide for greater access to voting and cautioned against dropping the issue. According to the Wall Street Journal, the two executives reportedly asked businesses leaders to sign a statement opposing what they view as discriminatory legislation.
The event was, in part, said to have been organized by Jeffrey Sonnefeld of the Yale School of Management. It was designed to encourage business leaders to halt donations to politicians that support any new voting laws, similar to those enacted in Georgia.
Additional attendees according to Axios, included James Murdoch, previously of Fox, Linked-in co-founder Reid Hoffman, Levi Strauss’s Chip Bergh, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, as well as other executives of Delta United and American Airlines.
Democrats and civil-rights groups insist that the recent changes to Georgia laws are reminiscent of the Jim Crow era and will suppress minority turn-out.
The new Georgia mandate requires that:
- A absentee voter must show identification, similar to current state laws for in-person voting. Types of identification include a Georgia state driver’s license number, ID card, date of birth and the last four digits of a social security number, or another approved form of identification which must be printed on the outside of an absentee ballot.
- If certain conditions are not met, the absentee ballot can be rejected.
- In addition the law bans people (aside from poll workers) from soliciting votes or signatures from voters outside polling centers.
- Meanwhile, the distribution or display of campaign materials is restricted to 150 feet of outer edge perimeter of a polling location.
- Offering money, including food or drink, to a prospective voter is prohibited.