Lawmakers from FL Black Caucus call on big corporations to join fight over GOP’s ‘oppressive’ voting measures

Photo by Hill Street Studios/Getty Images.

A coalition of Black lawmakers in Florida denounced efforts to restrict voting rights across the nation and called on big corporations to join the fight against what they call attempts by Republicans to suppress the vote.

The Florida Legislative Black Caucus issued a press release Monday, saying those voting restriction bills sponsored by Republican members of the Florida House and Senate are “opposed by every single one of Florida’s 67 elected Supervisors of Elections.”

The group also said the proposed measures are aimed at suppressing votes primarily in minority populations.

Members of the Caucus warned that the silence from businesses not publicly condemning voter suppression laws would mean they are endorsing the disenfranchisement of Black and brown communities.

FL Sen. Bobby Powell. chair of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus Credit: FLSenate.gov

State Sen. Bobby Powell, who represents part of Palm Beach County, said in a statement, “Many of our country’s largest corporations have been outspoken on the issue of protecting our right to vote.”

“Unfortunately, many of these same corporate interests are helping to fund the crackdown on those rights by Republicans in statehouses across the nation, including Florida’s,” said Powell, who is the Black Caucus chairman.

“We are calling on them to examine their rolls in bankrolling these oppressive measures, and we are calling on them to stand up for democracy.”

As previously reported by the Florida Phoenix, those measures in the state would restrict mail-in balloting, curtail or remove use of ballot drop boxes, and outlaw use of out-of-state funding to promote voting, and more.

Corporations such as Major League Baseball announced Friday that the league is moving its All-Star Game from Atlanta in protest.

In late March, the New York Times posted a story “citing dozens of prominent Black business leaders in America who are working to fight these restrictive laws,” according to state Rep. Fentrice Driskell.

Rep. Fentrice Driskell, a member of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus. Screenshot: The Florida Channel

Driskell, a Tampa Democrat, urged corporations to speak out against the voter suppression measures. Also a member of the Black Caucus, she issued a written statement Tuesday:

“In response to the numerous voter suppression bills being pushed by legislatures across the country, it is imperative that corporations utilize their influence in opposing these proposals that attack our democracy and threaten to disenfranchise minority voters by adding more difficult and unnecessary barriers to voting.”

According to the Black Caucus, corporations publicly supported the Black Lives Matter last summer and “vowed to do their part in dismantling systemic racism.”

In another statement from a Caucus member, state Sen. Perry Thurston, said, “Corporations are an integral part of the community in Florida.”

“They should not and cannot be on the sidelines. As others are doing across the nation, Florida’s top executives need to speak out and let Floridians know where they stand on these suppressive laws,” said Thurston, a Democrat representing part of Broward County.