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Cooper, Whitmer lead national call for businesses to 'speak out' on voter restrictions

Michael Wilner and Brian Murphy, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON – North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer have helped organize a bipartisan letter calling on businesses to speak out against a flurry of bills introduced across the country that would restrict voting access.

The open letter, obtained by McClatchy, was signed by more than 50 current and former governors, lieutenant governors, state attorneys general and secretaries of state, who described themselves as “deeply concerned about the wave of voter restrictions sweeping the country.”

“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 reads.

State lawmakers across the county have introduced hundreds of bills centered on elections this year — after former President Donald Trump’s public complaints about mail-in ballots, fraud and other aspects of his 2020 election loss. In Georgia, where Trump lost in November and Democrats captured two majority-winning U.S. Senate seats in January, lawmakers passed a large election overhaul.

Critics complained the measure was designed to limit voting rights, especially for Black voters who were pivotal to Democrats’ success in the 2020 election. And corporations raised their own very public objections. Major League Baseball moved its July All-Star Game from Atlanta as a result. Georgia-based companies, such as Delta and Coca-Cola, spoke out against the law.

“More than 360 bills aimed at restricting voting access have been introduced across 47 states,” the letter reads. “Many of them are based on the same lies that led to violence during the 2020 elections, and they add barriers to voting that disproportionately impact voters of color, the elderly, our veterans, and those with disabilities.”


Cooper and Whitmer, both Democrats, co-sponsored the letter with three former Republican governors, Arne Carlson of Minnesota, Bill Weld of Massachusetts and Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey.

“I think in 2020, we got a glimpse of how far anti-democracy forces are willing to go, and with bills popping in states across the country, it’s got to be an all-hands-on-deck moment for our democracy,” Whitmer told McClatchy in a phone interview Monday evening.

“Fundamental to our democracy is our ability to choose our leaders in this country, and any corporation that is here in this country needs to step in and support our efforts to protect all voices,” Whitmer said. “This is about the employees of those corporations. This is about their customers. This is about democracy.”

The letter was organized by the States United Democracy Center, a new nonpartisan organization formed by the leaders who ran the Voter Protection Program in 2020. The program engaged in legal and communications efforts during the 2020 election, including supporting litigation to stop changes at the U.S. Postal Service, defending expanded voting laws and issuing legal advisories about voter intimidation, according to its site.


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