Bills 531 & 241 impose new restrictions on voting in Georgia
Nsé Ufot, New Georgia Project CEO, joins Yahoo Finance's Kristin Myers to break down the proposed legislature to impose new voting restrictions in Georgia.
KRISTIN MYERS: All eyes have been on the state of Georgia lately. First, voters voted for a Democratic president for the first time in decades, and then sent not one, but two Democratic senators to DC. But now the state legislature is working to pass legislation that many say will suppress the vote, specifically-- if I can talk today-- the Black vote. And now they're being helped by some big corporate donors.
So we're joined now by Nsé Ufot, New Georgia Project CEO, for this conversation. So Nsé, I want to start with the legislation. Because we have a nice graphic here that really shows what's inside the proposal, which already passed the state house in Georgia. So this bill essentially would limit the use of dropboxes to return ballots. It would require photo ID to return an absentee ballot. And it would eliminate-- at least this is in the Senate Bill-- eliminate no excuse mail-in voting. That's just some of the pieces of this bill.
Now, folks are saying that these bills are essentially going to disproportionately impact Black voters. Do you think that is, in a way, a retaliatory measure from what we saw during the general election?
NSE UFOT: I absolutely think that this is a retaliatory measure. And not only in response to what we saw in the November general, but also the January runoff, right? That in the nine weeks between the November general and the January runoff elections, you know, there was a lot of hand-wringing about, you know, young people are unreliable, Black people don't show up in runoffs, that the Republicans have a structural and a historic advantage because their voting base is older and whiter.
And we completely defied conventional political wisdom by having overwhelming participation amongst every demographic in Georgia. And so we believe that this is a response, that the folks who are promoting Senate Bill 241 and House Bill 531 are the same people who promoted the big lie that led to the Capitol insurrection on January 6th. They're still very upset and very embarrassed from November and January.
KRISTIN MYERS: I want to move on to some of the corporate donors that we're seeing reported. Judd Legum tweeted this out, some of those corporate donors. You can see that extensive list there. Home Depot, Delta, Coca-Cola all make the list. Now a lot of these are companies that came out during the past summer, promising support for movements like Black Lives Matter, promising support and greater initiatives around diversity and inclusion. So what, then, do you make of this move to see some of these companies supporting legislation, essentially, that is going to suppress the ability for the Black community to get to the polls?
NSE UFOT: Hypocrisy, in this moment, I think is one of the ways that I would describe their silence, right? That you can't spend an entire summer and fall declaring your support for Black Lives Matter, participating in the Chamber of Commerce's racial equity working groups, spending millions of dollars on Get Out the Vote campaigns, targeting young voters and Black voters, giving your employees Juneteenth off, and then turn around or-- and again, we just finished 28 days of Black History Month, where there was tons of content across all of their platforms, again, talking about the importance of Black History.
And then when we see Black futures being attacked through these voter suppression measures, that you remain silent. And it's particularly egregious for those corporations that are based in Georgia, that these are our neighbors, that they have tens of thousands of employees that are Georgia voters, whose rights are being attacked right now.
KRISTIN MYERS: Now if these bills pass-- I mentioned that they already passed the state House. But let's say they do become law in the state of Georgia. How will organizations like yours, essentially, overcome these additional hurdles to get voters, and specifically Black voters, to the polls?
NSE UFOT: Well, we're not done. I mean, fortunately, we live in a country where federalism, we have a federalist system of government. So there is an opportunity, with the passage of HR-1 and HR-4, to mute the impact of some of these trash bills that are being introduced in Georgia's legislature and in legislatures across the country. I think that there's also an opportunity to fight this out in court. We, of course, will have to wait for it to become law. But there's definitely an opportunity to litigate because these are all violations of current existing civil rights and voting rights law.
And then, lastly, I think that there's an opportunity to fight in the court of public opinion, because ultimately, these are all publicly traded companies. And their reputation amongst consumers, particularly young people and people of color, tastemakers, matters. And if people see them as powering, financing anti-democratic, fascist voter suppression, I imagine that that will be bad for their bottom line.
KRISTIN MYERS: Yeah, they do say that people vote with their feet, but they are also fully capable of voting with their wallets. So we'll definitely be keeping an eye if some of those corporations essentially take a hit, as investors don't want to support companies they feel are participating in voter suppression. Nsé Ufot, New Georgia Project CEO, thanks so much for joining us for this very important conversation today.