Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on April 5 admonished corporate leaders for their criticism of Georgia’s new voting law, accusing them of falling for “absurd disinformation” and of “dabbling in behaving like a woke parallel government.”
“Our private sector must stop taking cues from the Outrage-Industrial Complex,” McConnell said in a statement. “Americans do not need or want big business to amplify disinformation or react to every manufactured controversy with frantic left-wing signaling.”
The top Republican in the Senate said the discussion around SB 202, or the Election Integrity Act of 2021 (pdf), has become unmoored from fact.
“There is no consistent or factual standard being applied here,” McConnell said. “It’s just a fake narrative gaining speed by its own momentum. … Businesses must not use economic blackmail to spread disinformation.”
Dozens of CEOs and corporations—including Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola—have railed against SB 202, alleging voter suppression. Last week, dozens of black business executives from around the country, including Merck chief executive Kenneth Frazier and former American Express chief executive Kenneth Chenault, released a joint letter in The New York Times urging corporate America to stand up forcefully to oppose it.
“There is no middle ground here,” Chenault said in the letter. “You either are for more people voting, or you want to suppress the vote.”
Broadly, Georgia’s voting law institutes more stringent requirements around voting, including more rigorous voter ID laws, limits on the use of ballot boxes, and giving the Georgia legislature more control over its elections. Proponents say the measures are necessary improvements to shore up integrity and build confidence in the state’s elections. Opponents, including the business leaders, argue they amount to voter suppression that will hit communities of color especially hard.
President Joe Biden has also weighed in, criticizing SB 202 as “a blatant attack on the Constitution and good conscience,” adding: “What I’m worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is. It’s sick.”
Biden also described the law as “Jim Crow on steroids.”
McConnell responded to Biden’s comment in his statement saying that opposition to SB 202 was part of “a coordinated campaign by powerful and wealthy people to mislead and bully the American people.”
“The President has claimed repeatedly that state-level debates over voting procedures are worse than Jim Crow or ‘Jim Crow on steroids.’ Nobody actually believes this,” McConnell said. “Nobody really thinks this current dispute comes anywhere near the horrific racist brutality of segregation. But there’s an old cynical saying that ‘history is just the set of lies agreed upon.’ And a host of powerful people and institutions apparently think they stand to benefit from parroting this big lie.”
The reforms included in SB 202 include requiring photo or state-approved identification to vote absentee by mail. They also mandate that secure drop boxes be placed inside early voting locations, with constant surveillance. The law also shortens the election cycle for runoffs from nine weeks to four, and expands early voting across the state, addressing a key Democrat concern.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp also refuted Biden’s characterization of the law.
“It is obvious that neither President Biden nor his handlers have actually read SB 202, which I signed into law yesterday,” Kemp said in a statement emailed to The Epoch Times. “This bill expands voting access, streamlines vote-counting procedures, and ensures election integrity.”
McConnell, in his statement on April 5, said corporations protesting the law could “invite serious consequences” if they “become a vehicle for far-left mobs to hijack our country.”
Citing data that over 70 percent of Americans, including a majority of Democrats, support voter ID requirements, McConnell argued that the opposition to SB 202 was a way to build support for Democrat-led efforts to reform election laws.
“Washington Democrats want to pass a sweeping bill that would let them rewrite all 50 states’ election laws and turn the Federal Election Commission into a Democrat-run partisan body,” McConnell said.
“This power grab is impossible to defend, so the left wants to deflect. Instead of winning the debate, they want to silence debate by bullying citizens and entire states into submission.”
The legislative thrust he was presumably referring to was H.R. 1, the For the People Act of 2021, which passed the Democrat-controlled House on March 3 on a largely party-line vote of 220–210, with all Republicans and one Democrat—Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi—voting against it. The bill awaits action in the Senate.
Democrats—and other proponents—have framed the bill as a crucial step against voter suppression, while Republicans—and other opponents—argue it weakens security measures and makes elections more prone to fraud.