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Atlanta mayor: ‘More effective ways’ than boycotts to get necessary voting reform


Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Wednesday urged those looking to boycott Georgia-based companies over the state’s new elections law to instead vote and back federal voting legislation.

“My concern with a boycott, not just at Home Depot but any of the … Fortune 500 companies that are headquartered in Atlanta, is that you will impact families like ours,” she told CNN’s Erin Burnett on “Erin Burnett OutFront,” referencing her husband’s employment at Home Depot. “And I do think that there is a more effective way for us to get the necessary change that’s needed in the state.”

Opponents of a sweeping elections law sped through by Georgia Republicans last month have called for boycotts of high-profile Georgia-based companies, including Delta, Coca-Cola and Home Depot, arguing that the companies didn’t do enough to defeat the measure.

The law imposes new voter identification requirements for absentee ballots, empowers state officials to take over local elections boards, limits the use of ballot drop boxes and makes it a crime to approach voters in line to give them food and water. It swiftly prompted lawsuits from civil rights groups and a sharp denunciation from President Joe Biden.

In expressing her concern over the boycotts, Bottoms, a Democrat, pointed to Atlanta as a major regional economy in the country and called for those opposed to the law to make their voices heard in other ways besides boycotting major Georgia-based companies.

“They have a real impact in our communities, in addition to the thousands of people who work for them,” Bottoms said. “So I think that our best chance right now is federal legislation but certainly still pressing forward and making changes come election year in states across this country.”

As to how opponents of the Georgia law can do that, Bottoms said, “For one, we can show up and vote next year for all of the statewide offices that will be on the ballot. But also we can give our support, and companies can give their support, to the legislation that’s pending before Congress. It may not solve all of our issues but it certainly will address many of them.”

In March, congressional Democrats introduced a sweeping election and voting rights package — the For the People Act — which, if passed, would counteract Republican efforts at the state level to curb access to the ballot box. Though passed by the House earlier that month, the legislation is likely to hit a roadblock in the Senate, where it’s not clear there would be enough Republican support to overcome a filibuster.

Progressive activists are calling on Ford, Target, Google, Bank of America and other major companies that have pledged to support voting rights to cut ties with the US Chamber of Commerce. The powerful trade group fiercely opposed the For the People Act as “extremely problematic,” in part because of new curbs on political advocacy by companies and associations.

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