Texas businesses learn a lesson from Georgia, opposing voter suppression bill before it becomes law


Southwest Airlines and AT&T offered vaguer statements in support of voting rights without being specific about the bill that has passed the state Senate, a version of which is being considered in the state House. 

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick offered a howler of a response, saying: “Texans are fed up with corporations that don’t share our values trying to dictate public policy.” Funny how Texas Republicans are allllll about making businesses happy until businesses express opposition to something being done to cement Republican power in the state by making it harder for Democratic-leaning voters to cast their ballots.

The Texas bill would bar public officials from sending out mail-in ballot applications and eliminate drive-thru voting after more than half of the people to vote that way in 2020 were Black, Latino, or Asian. It’s one of 361 bills in 47 states aimed at making it more difficult to vote.

In Georgia, Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola spoke out strongly against the attacks on voting recently put into law—but not until it was too late to stop them from becoming law, and only after public pressure.

The Georgia law notoriously bans people from handing out water or food at the state’s very long voting lines—very long, at least, if you live in an area with a lot of Black or poor people—but it does so much more. It gives voters less time to request absentee ballots, which means local election offices have less time to send those ballots out. Like the Texas bill, it prevents election officials from sending out absentee ballot applications. It makes absentee ballot applications much more complicated, and adds a voter ID requirement to getting an absentee ballot. It dramatically reduces the number of ballot drop boxes allowed, and reduces their usefulness by preventing them from being available after business hours. Mobile voting centers—where in Fulton County 11,200 people voted in 2020—are banned unless the governor declares a state of emergency. In some counties, early voting will be expanded. But in the ones where early voting has been the most important method of voting, its hours will be cut.

This is the Republican approach to voting rights. Democrats, on the other hand, are uniting behind the For the People Act, with the goal of “(1) removing barriers to expanding access to voting and securing the integrity of the vote; (2) establishing public financing in House elections to level the playing field; and (3) banning congressional gerrymandering by requiring that every state create a nonpartisan redistricting commission subject to nonpartisan redistricting criteria,” as Stephen Wolf explains. This is a fundamental issue about the nature and extent of U.S. democracy, and the choice between the parties is very clear.

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