Linkedin co-founder says companies should stop supporting politicians who aim to suppress voting rights

Hoffman said that making voting more accessible is pro-business

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Reid Hoffman, billionaire and cofounder of Linkedin, shared his thoughts on how businesses should respond to the growing number of politicians attempting to pass new laws to restrict voting.

CNN reported Hoffman urged business leaders to not only speak out against voter suppression, but to make moves that empower the verbal support. In his opinion the financial contributions to politicians and political groups who have called for voting laws that hinder access to voting should be cut off by companies who have expressed disdain for the legislation.

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“Protecting voter rights and making voting more accessible is both pro-business, and more importantly, pro-American,” he said to CNN Business via email. “This should be a simple, single-issue reason to stop supporting any politician.”

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA – OCTOBER 13: Reid Hoffman speaks onstage at WIRED25 Festival: WIRED Celebrates 25th Anniversary – Day 1 on October 13, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for WIRED25 )

Hoffman continued to speak on enterprises who are silent on the issue of voting rights and said they “risk backlash” from Americans who believe the right to vote is fundamental to democracy.

“I believe that companies who show a strong support for American values and the right to vote for all citizens may gain more business and elevated brand value,” he said. “While I actually think it’s good business and pro-business for corporations to speak out in favor of protecting voter rights, it’s ultimately just the right thing to do.”

Since the 2020 presidential election, after former president Donald Trump made endless baseless claims of voter fraud, states across the country have moved to pass laws regarding who can vote, when they can vote, and how. Georgia and Ohio are two GOP-led states who have made advancements.

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theGrio reported the Peach State passed new voting laws in March despite widespread pushback and criticism. Gov. Brian Kemp  signed into law a sweeping Republican-sponsored overhaul of state elections that includes new restrictions on voting by mail and gives the legislature greater control over how elections are run. Democrats and voting rights groups say the law will disproportionately disenfranchise voters of color.

The law requires a photo ID in order to vote absentee by mail, cuts the time people have to request an absentee ballot, and limits valid locations for ballot drop boxes and changes when they can be accessed. The controversial legislation also reduces the timeframe in which runoff elections are held, including the amount of early voting for runoffs and prohibits outside groups from handing out food or water to people standing in line to vote.

Georgia has already faced serious economic fallout from the passage of the law. Major League Baseball has moved its annual All-Star weekend from Atlanta. theGrio reported Will Smith and Antoine Fuqua have moved production of their upcoming film Emancipation out of the state.

“At this moment in time, the Nation is coming to terms with its history and is attempting to eliminate vestiges of institutional racism to achieve true racial justice,” Fuqua and Smith said in a joint statement.

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MADRID, SPAIN – JANUARY 08: Actor Will Smith attends ‘Bad Boys For Life’ photocall at the Villamagna Hotel on January 08, 2020 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)

In Ohio, Cincinnati Republican Rep. Bill Seitz has worked on a bill for months to rewrite election laws. According to the Associated Press, it includes banning off-site ballot drop boxes, shortening the early voting window by a day, and tightening Ohio’s voter ID requirement. The law also has measures for allowing absentee ballot requests to be submitted online and automatic registration.

“Happily for Ohio, the reforms we have already implemented helped to ensure that there were only minimal complaints about the Ohio election results in 2020,” his office told fellow representatives in his co-sponsorship request according to the AP. “But there is always room for improvement in safeguarding the integrity of election processes.”

Ohio Democrats have pushed back against the voting law, calling it “regressive,” the AP reported.

“In a state that has set the bar for extreme anti-voter laws, this proposal actively takes steps to put Ohio further back in the fight for access to the voting booth,” Ohio Democratic Chair Liz Walters said in a statement according to the outlet. “By limiting Ohioans’ ability to vote and by sowing confusion, statehouse Republicans are once again attacking the fundamental right to vote in this state.”

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MARIETTA, GA – APRIL 10: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp speaks at a news conference about the state’s new Election Integrity Law that passed this week at AJ’s Famous Seafood and Poboys on April 10, 2021 in Marietta, Georgia. Major League Baseball announced it would move the All-Star Game out of Georgia in response to the election bill, which opponents claim will negatively affect the minority population’s ability to vote. There is also a concern for the economic impact this will have on the state following the MLB’s decision. The bill’s passage follows the Governor’s decision to lift many of the restrictions in place for protection from COVID-19. (Photo by Megan Varner/Getty Images)

According to NBC 15 News, Howard University historian Dr. Lopez Matthews Jr. said the new laws, both proposed and passed, are easily comparable to the Jim Crow Laws of the past.

“They each had the same intent, which was to limit the vote,” Matthews Jr. said. “It looks like it’s very targeted, which is what you saw in the Jim Crow era.”

He added, “The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed over a 24-hour filibuster. In a way, calling it a relic of Jim Crow is accurate in that it was used to stop civil rights legislation but I think that that kind of puts it in a vacuum.”

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