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Texas Republicans' bills limiting voting access gets pushback from 2 high-profile corporations


Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick speaks during an event. Patrick has made the restrictive voting proposal Senate Bill 7 a top priority in the Texas Senate. - WIKIMDIA COMMONS / GAGE SKIDMORE
  • Wikimdia Commons / Gage Skidmore
  • Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick speaks during an event. Patrick has made the restrictive voting proposal Senate Bill 7 a top priority in the Texas Senate.
A pair of high-profile corporations are voicing opposition to Republicans' push in the Texas Legislature to tighten the state's already restrictive voting laws.

Statements issued Thursday by Fort Worth-based American Airlines and Austin-based Dell Technologies potentially clear the way for other businesses to come out against the GOP effort, which critics say is meant to suppress minority votes.

In its statement, American Airlines said it's "strongly opposed" to Senate Bill 7, a measure that would prohibit local elections officials from expanding voting access.

"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," the company said.

In a tweet, Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell, voiced opposition to House Bill 6, a similar proposal being considered in the Texas' other legislative body.

"Free, fair, equitable access to voting is the foundation of American democracy. Those rights — especially for women, communities of color — have been hard-earned," Dell said. "Governments should ensure citizens have their voices heard. HB6 does the opposite, and we are opposed to it."

If such opposition builds, it could mirror the business backlash against a controversial bill from the 2017 legislative session that would have banned transgender people from public restrooms. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, one of the Lege's most vocal GOP culture warriors, championed that bill, along with current crusade to restrict voting.

Patrick issued a statement claiming that an American Airlines official who contacted him shortly before the company issued its statement hadn't even read the bill's contents. "Texans are fed up with corporations that don’t share our values trying to dictate public policy," he added.

Regardless of Patrick's take on what Texans are fed up with, pressure appears to be mounting on the state's corporate citizens to say something about the bills, which critics say would harm people of color and other vulnerable groups. Those same disenfranchised voters could be among Texas business' employees and customers, they add.

Voting-rights groups earlier this week took out full-page ads in Texas newspapers suggesting that business leaders consider the potential economic backlash if the Republican-controlled Lege tamps down on poll access. After Georgia passed similarly restrictive measures, the MLB Players Association warned it may yank the All Star Game out of that state.

On Thursday, Black business leaders called on corporations to stand up against similar Republican-led measures being pushed in dozens of statehouses.

"There is no middle ground here," former American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault told the New York Times. "You either are for more people voting, or you want to suppress the vote."

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