Topline

Leaders from top Michigan companies including General Motors and Ford became the latest battleground state-based corporations to oppose new voting restrictions Tuesday as several GOP-led bills move forward in the state, with corporations warning Republican lawmakers not to pass new voting limits as Georgia did.

Key Facts

More than three dozen Michigan business leaders issued a statement Tuesday saying they support a series of bipartisan voting rights principles—including saying governments must “support equitable access to the ballot” and “avoid actions that reduce participation in elections.”

The business leaders—who represent such companies as Blue Cross Blue Shield, the Detroit Lions and Detroit Pistons—said they felt compelled to speak out because of the proposed voting laws in Michigan and other states.

Michigan’s GOP-led legislature is considering dozens of restrictive voting bills that would impose such restrictions as requiring ID for absentee voting, restricting ballot drop boxes and giving additional rights to poll challengers, which Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is expected to veto but Republicans could override by collecting a certain number of voter signatures.

Business leaders in Arizona previously signed an op-ed opposing the voting restrictions being considered in that state, including from the Arizona Cardinals and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Texas-based corporations including American Airlines and Dell Technologies have also spoken out against proposed voting restrictions that are moving forward in their state, which would make it harder to vote by mail and prohibit drive-through voting after the practice was widely used in the November election.

Several other Texas companies like AT&T and Southwest Airlines have also issued statements that broadly support voting rights but do not explicitly oppose the Republican-led bills.

Big Number

$16.7 billion. That’s how much money Texas could lose by 2025 from the potential loss of conventions, major sporting events and tourism in the state if its voting bills pass, according to an analysis by research firm the Perryman Group. The state could also lose $14.7 billion in household purchasing power and more than 150,000 jobs, suggesting the potentially devastating economic impact the corporate opposition to restrictive voting legislation could have.

Chief Critic

Republicans have remained committed to their voting bills—which they hold are “election integrity” measures necessary for making elections more secure—in the face of the corporate opposition. “Texans are fed up with corporations that don’t share our values trying to dictate public policy,” Texas Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick said in a statement after American Airlines opposed the state’s legislation.

Key Background

Republican lawmakers in states across the country have launched widespread efforts to enact new restrictions on voting in the wake of the November election, with a Brennan Center for Justice analysis finding legislators have introduced 361 such bills in 47 states as of March 24 and 55 are actively moving forward. The biggest restrictions enacted thus far have been in Georgia, where the state’s controversial new voting law has prompted a widespread backlash from the state’s business community. In addition to statements opposing the legislation from major corporations like Coca-Cola and Delta, Major League Baseball also moved its All-Star game out of Atlanta due to the law and the Will Smith film Emancipation moved production out of the state. Georgia’s Republican leadership has stood behind the law in the face of the backlash and so far refuses to make changes to it in response to the corporate pressure.

Contra

Some voting rights activists have been opposed to corporations enacting revenge on states for their voting restrictions, most notably former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. “My deep concern is that if we call for a boycott, the very people who are helping change the nature of economic opportunity and political opportunity will leave us behind,” Abrams said at a recent panel event. “So my message is stay and fight. Come and lift up your voices and join us.”

What To Watch For

More than 100 corporate leaders recently met to discuss how they can most effectively oppose voting restrictions, according to multiple reports, including potentially halting donations to lawmakers and not investing in states that pass such legislation.

Further Reading

Will Smith Movie ‘Emancipation’ Leaving Georgia Over Voting Restrictions—See Full Boycott List (Forbes)

Michigan’s big employers speak out against moves to restrict voting rights (Detroit Free Press)

Texas Could Lose Billions If Voting Restrictions Become Law, Study Finds (Forbes)