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Companies call out efforts to restrict voting in Texas



PLANO, TX – Corporations including HP, Levi Strauss, Microsoft and Patagonia are expressing concern about proposed changes to voting rules in Texas, where the Republican-controlled legislature is backing bills that would make it harder for some residents to cast ballots.

“We stand together, as a nonpartisan coalition, calling on elected leaders in Texas to support reforms that make democracy more accessible and oppose any changes that would restrict eligible voters’ access to the ballot,” the companies and other groups stated in a letter released Tuesday by Fair Elections Texas, a recently formed group that includes former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk.

Signed by more than 50 entities, including a number of Texas chambers of commerce, the missive urged business and civic leaders to “call upon lawmakers to uphold our ever elusive core democratic principle: equality.”

Voting bills passed by the Texas Senate in recent weeks would curtail extended polling hours and make it more difficult for people with disabilities to vote by mail, critics say. Proponents of the measure, including Republican Governor Greg Abbott, say the measures would increase election security.

One bill, SB7, would ban local officials from extending early voting hours and prohibit drive-thru voting. It also gives partisan poll watchers more access to polling stations and bars officials from sending out mail-in ballot applications unless a voter asks for it.

The Texas state House could vote on a proposal incorporating many of provisions as early as Thursday.

Republicans in legislatures across the country have advanced a number of voting rule measures following the 2020 presidential election. In Florida, for example, lawmakers on April 29 approved legislation that would add ID requirements for voters requesting to vote by mail and require people to request mail ballots more frequently, among other changes. Ron DeSantis, the state’s Republican governor, is expected to sign it into law.

After Georgia Republicans in March enacted a sweeping law affecting voting access in the state, Peach State companies such as Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola voiced opposition to the measure. That prompted attacks from Republicans like Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who tweeted a video of himself deriding the companies as “woke corporate hypocrites.”

Dell Technologies and American Airlines were among the first Fortune 500 corporations to speak out against the Texas bills.

“We are strongly opposed to this bill and others like it. As a Texas-based business, we must stand up for the rights of our team members and customers who call Texas home, and honor the sacrifices made by generations of Americans to protect and expand the right to vote,” Fort Worth-based American said in a statement last month.

“Governments should ensure citizens have their voices heard. HB6 does the opposite, and we are opposed to it,” tweeted Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell, at the time.

AT&T and Southwest Airlines, which are both based in Dallas, have also recently expressed support for laws that make it easier for people to vote while ensuring secure elections.

Texas lawmakers in April offered amendments to the state budget that would have blocked grants or other funding from any businesses that voiced opposition to legislation “related to election integrity.” The amendments were rescinded, but viewed as a blunt warning to companies considering speaking out on the measures.