(TriceEdneyWire.com) – An online advocacy group, dedicated to strengthening the collective political voice of Black people and other historically disadvantaged, is calling for major corporations to stop funding a right-wing group that pushes for discriminatory voter identification laws.

“For years, the right wing has been trying to stop Black people, other people of color, young people, and the elderly from voting for partisan gain — and now some of America’s biggest companies are helping them do it,” said a statement posted on the group’s website, colorofchange.org. “These companies have helped pass discriminatory voter ID legislation by funding a right wing policy group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Voter ID bills linked to ALEC have already passed in seven states, and similar voter ID bills have been introduced in 27 other states… ALEC’s voter ID laws are undemocratic, unjust and part of a longstanding right wing agenda to weaken the Black vote.”

The statement continues, “Supporters of discriminatory voter ID laws claim they want to reduce voter fraud (individuals voting illegally, or voting twice). But such fraud almost never actually occurs, and never in amounts large enough to affect the result of elections. What is clear is that voter ID laws prevent large numbers of eligible voters from casting a ballot, and could disenfranchise up to 5 million people.”
Human and civil rights groups such as the NAACP and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law have concurred strongly with the fight against the growing voter identification laws.

In a recent commentary written by NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous, he states, “Over the last 12 months, 34 states have introduced voter suppression legislation, with laws passing in 14 of those states and bills pending in eight. These suppressive laws take many forms, but in each case they disproportionately impact people of color, working women, blue-collar workers, students, seniors, and immigrants.”

The statement says that ALEC is funded in part by the Koch Brothers, “the same family that funds the radically conservative tea party.” It describes many of its large corporate funders as having “household names.”

The statement on ColorofChange.org does not specifically name the companies, but says many of them may not be aware of the impact of their contributions to ALEC.

“Some of the companies supporting ALEC may simply be unaware that the group is involved in voter suppression. Others might think that voter suppression will benefit their political interests, and hope that they can get away with supporting it because so few people have even heard of ALEC,” the statement says. “We’ve started reaching out to these companies to make sure they know what they’re supporting, and to demand that they stop. Adding your voice to this campaign will help us convince these companies that continuing to support ALEC will hurt their reputation with consumers.”

The statement offers an online letter written directly to the companies and asks supporters to sign it. The letter can be found at http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/alec.

“I presume your company does not want to support voter suppression, nor have your products or services associated with discrimination and large-scale voter disenfranchisement. I urge you to immediately stop funding ALEC and issue a public statement making it clear that your company does not support discriminatory voter ID laws and voter suppression,” the letter states in part.

Color of Change is clear about its intent: “We hope that many of them will simply do the right thing and stop supporting ALEC. If they don’t, we’ll be prepared to shine a spotlight on them and make sure the world understands what they’re involved in,” the statement says. “Major companies that rely on business from Black folks shouldn’t be involved in suppressing our vote.”


Hazel Trice Edney