Are Corporations Helping to Disenfranchise Black Voters?

Are Corporations Helping to Disenfranchise Black Voters?

ColorofChange is urging its members to help force major corporations from supporting an organization that it says helps disenfranchise Black voters.

Published December 9, 2011

Would you put a bumper sticker on your car supporting a politician who would try to make it harder for you to vote in the next election?  Probably not. Then why would you buy your cellphone or car insurance from corporations that also support stricter voting laws, online advocacy group ColorofChange wants to know.


According to the group, several of the nation’s largest corporations are dues-paying members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative nonprofit organization that reportedly has helped states pass voter photo ID laws that civil rights groups argue seek to keep African-Americans and others from the polls. ColorofChange has launched a petition drive to put those companies on notice.


Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorofChange, has sent an email to his group's 800,000-plus members asking them to sign a petition to demand that corporations withdraw their membership from ALEC, whose membership also includes state legislators.


“Some of the companies supporting ALEC may simply be unaware that the group is involved in voter suppression,” the email reads. “Others might think that voter suppression will benefit their political interests, and hope that they can get away with supporting it because so few people have even heard of ALEC.”


Robinson doesn’t name names in his email, but members of ALEC’s private enterprise board includes representatives from UPS, AT&T, Kraft Foods, Johnson & Johnson, Coca Cola, Wal-Mart, State Farm Insurance and others.


“The corporations behind this can’t come to us for our dollars 364 days of the week and disenfranchise us on the 365th," Robinson told the Associated Press.


ALEC spokeswoman Kaitlyn Buss told the wire service that the organization is not actively involved in voter ID legislation. According to Buss, a state lawmaker brought the issue to the organization and it “turned into a resource” for other state lawmakers. Whether such laws pass, she added, is “up to the people electing their legislators and the legislature.”


ColorofChange says it has begun reaching out to various ALEC member corporations to make them aware of “what they’re supporting and to demand that they stop,” Robinson’s email states. “If they don’t, we’ll be prepared to shine a spotlight on them and make sure the world understands what they’re involved in.”


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(Photo: Xinhua/Landov)

Written by Joyce Jones


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