Politics Dozens of businesses speak out against voting restrictions in Texas
Texas Was Already One of the Hardest States to Vote in. It May Get Even Harder
The Texas House of Representatives approved a spate of new voting restrictions Friday that would ban election officials from sending out ballot applications to voters unless they specifically requested one and grant more power to partisan poll watchers. The measure, which Democrats, corporations, and voting rights advocates have said impinges on Texans’ right to vote, will soon return to the Republican-controlled Senate and could still undergo significant changes. Republican Governor Greg Abbott has broadly expressed support for the bill.
At least 50 businesses, including Hewlett-Packard, Patagonia, American Airlines, and P. Terry’s, have joined together to speak out against voting restrictions in Texas.
The corporations formed a coalition known as Fair Elections Texas and plan to release the letter opposing restrictions on Tuesday, according to Nate Ryan, CEO of Austin-based consulting firm Blue Sky Partners, which has signed onto the letter.
“It’s important for business leaders to understand that a functioning democracy is good for business. We have one of those,” he told NBC News. “There was no real fraud in our last election, certainly nothing that would have swayed the outcome, so this entire battle we’re having right now is really about the health of our democracy overall.”
Republican-led legislatures push forward with efforts to restrict voting access
Republican-controlled legislatures are charging forward with a raft of new state laws imposing limits on voting. © Megan Varner/Getty Images In this March 8, 2021, file photo, demonstrators stand outside the Georgia state Capitol in Atlanta in opposition to House Bill 531. GOP lawmakers in Montana recently passed new voting restrictions. And GOP legislators in Florida, Arizona and Texas soon could follow -- as Republicans scramble to change the ground rules for future elections.
Texas lawmakers are considering a spate of election restrictions including two major bills currently working their way through the Legislature that would cut early voting options, empower poll watchers, and add criminal penalties to parts of the process for voters and election officials. One bill, Senate Bill 7, was rewritten in the House last week and could come up for a vote this week; as it reads now, it would add criminal penalties to the election process.
The coalition's letter does not speak out against specific legislation, but Ryan said the timing was pointed.
"Now is a crucially important time for this statement to be made," he said. "I know that these bills would further suppress the vote."
Hundreds ofagainst voting restrictions, which are being advanced around the country, inspired by former President Donald Trump baseless allegations of voter fraud and stolen election lie.
GOP-backed voting restrictions like Florida's will appease Trump more than they'll help Republicans win elections
For years, Republicans dominated mail voting in Florida. After Trump waged war on the practice, the state GOP passed new limits on it.Between Fox News scoring an exclusive for the signing and the effusive praise from the "Fox & Friends'" hosts for DeSantis, the event was clearly made-for-Trump television.
American Airlines spoke out last month, specifically against, which cut early voting options and empowered poll watchers. Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick responded angrily, claiming the airline had not read the bill.
A person involved the statewide efforts to organize businesses who was not authorized to speak to the press said Patrick’s statements made businesses anxious.
“I literally heard one business be like, we’re gonna step out, but then we’re going to have to prepare ourselves for the punishment that Dan Patrick and the legislature will put on us,” they told NBC News.
Then, after this coalition had begun discussing how they would speak out, Republican lawmakers proposed budget amendments that would have punished businesses who spoke out against proposed voting restrictions.
Business leaders characterized those amendments, which later failed, as “mafia-style management,” the person said.
NHL's COVID protocol-related absences for May 7, 2021 .
Players in the COVID protocol are: Colorado's Devan Dubnyk and Washington's Evgeny Kuznetsov.Anaheim – TBA