Here’s how not to drop the Ball of Voting Rights

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Business leaders who claim to support their employees on women’s rights, LGBTQ equality and other critical issues have a chance to prove their sincerity this year, as the midterm elections approach. Even though 2022 is not a presidential election year, the Election Day outcome and how voting rights prevail could have a significant impact on companies’ diversity, equality and inclusion programs – and not in a good way, if the Republican Party takes control of the House and Senate.

Why midterms are important

Many voters seem to believe that the President of the United States can pass legislation with the flick of a pen, but that is not the case. The president can only sign bills that have been passed by Congress – the House of Representatives and the Senate. If the president is to achieve his legislative goals, his party must control a working majority in both the House and the Senate.

However, getting Democratic voters to the polls is going to be a challenge this year more than others.

Declining midterm votes have been common among the American electorate since the 1840s, according to Pew Research. The balance of power in Congress wouldn’t necessarily change just because fewer people vote midterm. However, the state-based Republican leadership has taken two key steps to ensure the Democratic Party loses its current majority in Congress: suppressing the Democratic-leaning black vote and other communities of color, and drawing new maps district for the House that exclude Democrats. leaning voters.

In addition, Republican leaders in Congress have taken steps to ensure that the “presidential sanction” is fully enforced. With the help of the 60-vote filibuster threshold and two Democratic senators (Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema), the Republican minority in Congress was able to block significant parts of President Biden’s political agenda. The effort virtually guarantees that many voters who voted for Biden in 2020 will be disappointed on Election Day 2022. They will either not vote at all or they will vote for other congressional candidates, not Democratic candidates.

All is not lost…yet

As of this writing, it appears that the state’s efforts to secure a Republican majority in Congress may not be having quite the impact Republicans are anticipating.

During the redistricting, the Republican Party hoped to gain seats in the House through new state district maps drawn by Republican leaders. However, some analysis shows that the Republican Party may actually lose seats overall.

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Meanwhile, earlier this week, journalist Alex Samuels of the data-driven news organization 538 drew attention to evidence that voter suppression efforts can backfire.

Unfortunately, business leaders who support the DEI movement cannot be happy about either of these news. If the Republicans win the majority in the Senate, they will continue to block the Democratic agenda regardless of which party controls the House.

Specifically, Samuels throws cold water on the idea that the backfire effect can overcome voter suppression laws.

Citing the example of Georgia’s new election laws on participation in the May 24 primary elections, she wrote:

“It is important to remember, however, that you cannot vote or organize voter suppression tactics, and it would be misleading to say that the new restrictive laws have had no tangible effect on voters since we do not know just not, for example, how many people didn’t vote or had difficulty because of the new law.

“Additionally, given that primary elections tend to attract highly engaged voters, it is far too early to draw conclusions about the effects of these new laws. This means the real test of these restrictions will likely take place in November,” she added.

More suffrage hurdles to overcome

In fact, business leaders supporting DEI need to be more aggressive than ever to vote in Democratic-leaning communities in November. Redistricting, voter suppression and the “presidential penalty” aren’t the only tools in the Republican toolbox.

Voting rights actors also began to be alarmed at Republican efforts to control the electoral machine itself. Last January, Matt Vasilogambros of the Pew Charitable Trusts publication Stateline observed:

“The pervasive myths of a stolen 2020 presidential election and widespread voter fraud still dominate many state legislatures, as Republican policymakers call for more investigations and a reshaping of election administration from a way that could give them a partisan advantage.”

Citing the example of Georgia, he wrote that “the Republican-led State Election Commission could use new state law to install partisan officials on county election commissions in Democratic-leaning areas, giving them the power to decide which ballots to reject or even void. results.”

Another very concerning factor is the confluence of gun rights fetishism with the intent to overturn the results of a legitimate election by force, as amply illustrated by the failed January 6 insurgency. who attacked the Capitol building that day could have easily outgunned the Capitol police and carried out their threat to assassinate Vice President Mike Pence, among others.

It’s no coincidence that the Republican-appointed conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court seems inclined to undermine state restrictions on guns, opening up the possibility of more deadly violence. at the heart of the legislative process across the United States.

Corporate Action 101: Follow the Money

If the Republican Party gains control of the Senate in 2022 and beyond, business leaders can expect a flurry of congressional actions that amplify and strengthen state-run Party efforts to undermine the corporate DEI movement.

Instead of supporting DEI as part of federal policy, Congress is likely to pass bills that curtail LGBTQ rights, impose state and community policing on pregnant women, and crack down on black voters. and others who lean for the Democrats, in addition to easing gun regulations and rolling in support of federal action on climate change and environmental protections.

In short, companies with DEI programs are in the midst of a nationwide existential fight, which they will lose if they don’t apply all the tools in their own toolkits. Business leaders need to make clear, beyond a shadow of a doubt, their position on supporting the democratic process and the rule of law.

A good place to start would be the January 6 Committee hearings, which are due to start on Thursday, June 9. Thursday’s hearing will be at 8 p.m. during prime time television. Business leaders can and should encourage their employees, and the general public, to watch the hearing and see for themselves the evidence of Republican complicity in an effort to overthrow the democratically elected United States government of America, the very nation that presents itself as the defender of universal democratic principles around the world.

To follow up, companies need to devote more resources to their efforts to get the vote. That doesn’t mean more public service announcements and social media campaigns. This means unconditional financial support, such as paid time off to vote on Election Day, time off to participate in the process as a poll worker, and time off to participate as an official poll observer, as well financial support for election clinics. and legal resources for voters caught up in the crackdown laws.

Above all, business leaders need to take a serious look at their financial support for Republican elected officials and candidates. Many companies talk a lot about human rights and civil rights, but they don’t exercise their financial power when Republican candidates and political action committees come calling for campaign contributions.

The time for compromise is over when the Republican Party takes the position that it still has the right to hold office, by force if necessary, regardless of the will of the voters.

Business leaders should not be lulled into redistricting results, the backfire effect, or any other suggestion that the Democratic Party is likely to hold Congress past the midterms. They must be vigilant and seize every opportunity to ensure that every eligible voter has access to the ballot box – and that the will of voters determines the final outcome on Election Day 2022, not administrative partisanship or physical violence.

Image credit: Léon Kaye

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