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CEOs to Speak Against Voting Law Change04/12 06:13


   (AP) -- More than a hundred top executives and corporate leaders gathered 
online this weekend to discuss their response to restrictive voting laws under 
consideration in several states and already enacted in Georgia, according to a 
statement from organizers of the meeting.

   The statement didn't identify the participants, but The Washington Post 
reported that the meeting included executives from major airlines, retailers 
and manufacturers and at least one NFL owner.

   Without offering specifics, the statement -- issued by the Yale School of 
Management and two other civic groups -- noted that that "CEOs indicated 
readiness to act individually and collectively to shore up American democracy 
and ensure Americans have access to a world class voting system."

   Such actions could include halting donations to politicians who support the 
bills and even delaying investments in states that pass the restrictive 
measures, according to Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a Yale management professor and one 
of the organizers.

   The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources who attended, reported that 
Kenneth Chenault, the former chief executive of American Express Co. , and 
Kenneth Frazier, CEO of Merck & Co., urged dozens of leaders to collectively 
call for greater voting access. Chenault and Frazier warned businesses against 
dropping the issue and asked CEOs to sign a statement opposing what they view 
as discriminatory legislation on voting.

   The new statement could come early this week and would build on one that 72 
Black executives signed last month in the wake of changes to Georgia's voting 
laws, according to the newspaper's report.

   A number of companies and their leaders have spoken up on the issue in 
recent weeks. While Republican lawmakers such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch 
McConnell, R-Ky., have derided such action, many activists and others say big 
business hasn't gone far enough.

   More than 350 different voting bills are under consideration in dozens of 
states, according to a tally from the Brennan Center for Justice, a 
public-policy think tank.

   The Journal reported that some executives on the call described some bills 
as either racist or restrictive, and several participants described their 
efforts as critical to democracy, rather than partisan.

   While many companies indicated their support of a statement or further 
action, some remain reticent to speak out on a politically charged issue.

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