Color Of Change PAC Color Of Change PAC

Tell General Motors & Ford: Stop Bankrolling the Attack on Our Voting Rights! #DefendBlackVoters

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Since the historic turnout in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, extremist lawmakers across the country have pushed a thinly veiled effort to make it harder for Black and working-class voters to cast their ballots and make their voices heard. In 2021, the Michigan state legislature passed voter suppression bills that were then vetoed by the governor. An extremist initiative later repackaged these measures—that would have limited early voting, instituted harsher voter ID requirements, and even allowed for the removal of drop boxes in Black communities—into a petition-drive effort to pass them using a loophole in Michigan law. On July 29 of this year, that initiative officially filed what it claims is the necessary number of signatures and requested that the legislature be empowered to pass these voter suppression measures over the governor’s veto as soon as November. 

While General Motors (GM) CEO Mary Barra once called the right to vote “the most precious element of a democracy,” GM and Ford have spent nearly $444k combined on funding the extremist politicians poised to pass voter suppression by the end of the year. Now, decades of progress on voting rights in the state could be rolled back—at the expense of our democracy and communities. And this isn’t just Michigan’s problem. Nine of the past 11 presidential elections, going back to 1980, have spurred voter suppression efforts as extreme as that of Michigan. If Black Michiganders struggle to show up to the polls, the entire country will feel the impact.

Voter ID laws disproportionately affect Black and low-income voters, who are less likely to have access to a photo ID and more likely to be carded at the polls. A June 2021 study found that voters of color in Michigan were more likely to show up to the polls without proper identification. For Black and low-income voters specifically, the process of securing a valid photo ID is no easy feat. An appointment with the DMV means paying for an Uber or taking unpaid time off work. A January 2021 study found that enacting strict voter ID laws reduced voter turnout, even after eventually being repealed. 

Black voter suppression has grave consequences;
it curbs Black political power and limits our ability to have a say in our democracy. After the tragic killing of George Floyd, both GM and Ford released statements condemning racial inequality in this country. Mary Barra said that she was “impatient and disgusted,” while Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford and former CEO Jim Hackett said that the company “cannot turn a blind eye to [systemic racism].” But as long as GM and Ford bankroll voter suppression, Black voters cannot elect state’s attorneys who will prosecute abusive police officers like Christopher Schurr (who shot and killed Patrick Lyoya during a traffic stop), or vote for ballot initiatives that will decrease police oversight and surveillance. It’s clear that behind closed doors, Black lives matter less to them than supporting politicians who will put corporate profit before people. 

Ultimately, General Motors and Ford cannot claim to support voting rights while simultaneously backing the politicians who dedicated their careers to overturning them. We will not allow it. Join Color Of Change PAC, Community Change Action, and the Michigan Defend Black Voters Coalition in demanding that these corporations put their money where their mouths are and stop funding efforts to suppress the vote. #DefendBlackVoters

Below is the letter we'll send to General Motors and Ford: 

Dear General Motors CEO Mary Barra and Ford CEO Jim Farley, 

In response to the tragic killing of George Floyd, General Motors and Ford were amongst the first corporations to issue statements of support for Black lives and the fight for racial justice. It’s clear, however, that these statements were performative. For the past six years, GM and Ford have funded attacks on the voting rights and, thus, livelihoods of Black communities. 

Since 2016, GM and Ford have spent almost $444k combined on driving a Jim Crow–style voter suppression effort in Michigan, one that includes harsher voter requirements, shortened windows for absentee ballots, and limited early voting—all of which make it harder for Black and working-class voters to cast their ballots and elect officials who will address the needs of their communities.

We are asking that you make your support for Black lives tangible by taking the Defend MI Vote pledge to stop bankrolling politicians that back voter suppression!

Thank you.

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