The leaders of three-dozen major Michigan-based companies, including auto giants General Motors and Ford, announced Tuesday their opposition to Republican-sponsored election bills that critics say would make it harder to vote in Michigan and other states.
The businesses issued a joint statement saying they are united for principles such as equitable access to the ballot and the avoidance of moves that reduce voting — particularly among historically disenfranchised communities.
The GOP-led state Senate is expected to soon begin hearings on wide-ranging legislation that would require a photo ID to vote in person, prohibit the unsolicited statewide mass mailing of absentee ballot applications and restrict the hours in which people could drop their ballot in curbside boxes. Voters applying for an absentee ballot — an increasingly popular option under a 2018 constitutional amendment and during the coronavirus pandemic — would have to attach a copy of their ID.
Corporate leaders also have criticized a new election law in Georgia and bills in Texas.
"Government must support equitable access to the ballot to ensure that all eligible voters can exercise their rights," the statement said. "Government must avoid actions that reduce participation in elections — particularly among historically disenfranchised communities, persons with disabilities, older adults, racial minorities and low-income voters."
The statement was signed by GM's Mary Barra, Ford's Jim Farley, executives from all four Detroit professional sports teams and the leaders of auto suppliers, banks and other businesses. They said election laws must be developed in bipartisan fashion.
Republicans have said changes are needed to ensure election integrity following a surge in absentee voting in 2020. More than 5.5 million people voted in Michigan's presidential election — the most ever and the highest percentage of voting-age residents to cast a ballot in 60 years.
Some in the GOP have falsely claimed the presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump despite his loss to Joe Biden by about 154,000 votes, or 2.8 percentage points, in the battleground state.
Several bills would be vetoed by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer if they reach her desk. But the state Republican Party has said it plans a maneuver that would enable the Legislature to pass them into law anyway if enough voter signatures are gathered for a ballot initiative.