KISSEL And OLIVASTRO: Corporate Activism Is Helping Undermine Confidence In Our Elections

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Editor’s note: We endeavor to bring you the top voices on current events representing a range of perspectives. Below is a column arguing that corporate activism like that seen in Georgia over the state’s new voting law has undermined public confidence in elections. You can find a counterpoint here, where Professor Jason Nichols argues that corporate activism can have meaningful positive effects.

Six people out of 7 million who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine experienced blood clots, just a 0.000085% incidence of this possible side effect. America paused its use of the vaccine anyway because we expect the highest standards of safety and quality.

Doesn’t our democracy deserve the same reliability and trustworthiness?

We are in the midst of a national crisis with left and right claiming a loss of confidence in our election processes. But major corporations are exacerbating the problem by promoting lies and opposing Georgia’s democratically elected legislators, who passed commonsense, race-neutral reforms that improve election integrity without disenfranchising any legal voter.

These companies are playing partisan political games and taking sides as a result of pressure from radical activist groups that oppose democratic lawmaking. They have pressured corporations and athletic leagues to throw their weight around in Georgia — not just to oppose its law, but to build support for an unconstitutional, dangerous federal law that would supersede state election laws.

That’s not democracy. That’s bullying.

Election fraud is real and well-documented, even if it is less common than some people say and more common than others say.

Georgia’s law liberalizes pre-COVID voting rules and strengthens them against potential fraud and manipulation. It allows advance voting on Saturdays, provides for secured ballot drop boxes, and bans ballot harvesting. And it ensures each voter is actually the voter on record,.

It bans private funding of election officials – the kind of funding intended to manipulate election results in counties where the grantor’s favored political party is in the majority.

If voters are stuck in line for more than an hour and the precinct has more than 2,000 voters, the government has to fix the problem for next time.

Ballots can’t be pre-filled by a third party — you have to know your own address and birthday. Nobody can pressure you or watch you fill out your ballot.

Promptly after polls close, the precinct must announce its total number of ballots. They have to count absentee ballots by 5 p.m. the day after the election. And workers have to keep counting until they are done—no leaving ballots unattended and coming back in the morning.

These rules will increase voter confidence in free and fair elections across the state. The rules make fraud a lot harder without preventing anyone who is eligible from voting. These changes address a fundamental requirement of the American experiment: How we govern ourselves and how we become more united in pursuit of realizing the promise of our great nation.

This isn’t a question of which political party is right. In fact, there could a bipartisan impetus for more transparent, fair, and secure elections. One might be motivated by Hillary Clinton who, following her 2016 loss, said, “You can run the best campaign, you can even become the nominee, and you can have the election stolen from you.”

Perhaps some have always thought it was important to address the aftermath of the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial race, when Stacey Abrams never conceded, saying, “Concession in the political space is an acknowledgment that the process was fair. And I don’t believe that to be so.”

It’s quite likely that the 2020 presidential election is a key factor. Both major parties built robust narratives around what the other side would say and do to steal victory. Former President Donald Trump reiterated it in January when he said, “Had we had a fair election, the results would have been much different.”

Amid this political conversation, it’s understandable that companies would face pressure from often misinformed employees and advocacy organizations. Many on the left now say that business has a responsibility to engage in partisan political activities and take sides, using their economic power to achieve what activists have failed to do through democratic processes.

This is a mistake: Companies should focus on their business and their customers, who are not divided by politics and partisan considerations. But even if they do act, their engagement at least should be rooted in facts, not falsehoods.

To use their brands and market power to thwart the will of the elected representatives of their customers is unethical and undemocratic. States have prerogatives to run their own elections fairly and securely. Major corporations should embrace the opportunity to educate about federalism and the uniqueness of American government, not indoctrinate with progressive slogans.

Companies could be vessels of political and civic education for their employees around the globe. That would be better than willingly being used as political pawns.

Adam Kissel is senior fellow at the Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy. Andy Olivastro is director of coalition relations at The Heritage Foundation.