American Airlines said it is “strongly opposed” to a bill passed by the Texas Senate that would make it more difficult to vote and “others like it,” making it the latest major corporation to stand up to a push by Republicans to tighten voting laws.
Voting bills have become a political landmine for major corporations in recent days after the George Legislature passed a sweeping bill to change voting laws, including heavy restrictions on mail-in voting. Delta Air Lines put out a controversial statement Wednesday opposing the legislation after facing boycott threats, and Coca-Cola said it wants “to be crystal clear and state unambiguously that we are disappointed in the outcome of the Georgia voting legislation.”
“To make American’s stance clear: We are strongly opposed to this bill and others like it,” American said in a statement. “Voting is the hallmark of our democracy and is the foundation of our great country. We value the democratic process and believe every eligible American should be allowed to exercise the right to vote, no matter which political party or candidate they support.”
Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, which is one of the four biggest airlines in the country along with American, didn’t take a stance on the proposal but issued a statement of support for access to voting.
“The right to vote is foundational to our democracy and a right coveted by all,” said a statement from Southwest Airlines spokesman Chris Mainz. “We believe every voter should have a fair opportunity to let their voice be heard. This right is essential to our nation’s success.”
Republican-controlled legislatures across the country have begun efforts to tighten access to voting after Democrat Joe Biden was elected president and Democrats gained majority control of Congress in 2020. Former President Donald Trump vowed to overturn the election, and he and his supporters are continuing to perpetuate false claims about illegal voting.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the state needs greater protections to “protect election integrity,” even though there is no evidence that there was widespread voting fraud in the 2020 election.
American’s statement drew a swift rebuke from Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, one of the state’s strongest advocates for stricter voting laws. “Texans are fed up with corporations that don’t share our values trying to dictate public policy,” he said in a statement.
Patrick said American’s lobbyist called his office and “admitted that neither he nor the American Airlines CEO had actually read the legislation.”
He also criticized American Airlines for opposing a 2017 proposal that limited options for transgender athletes.
The bill passed by the Texas Senate early Thursday morning would cut early voting hours, limit the number of voting machines at countywide polling places and give the state authority over running elections that was formerly delegated to local officials.
Critics have claimed the attempts to change voting laws are racist and target minority communities.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins Tweeted that the bill would have a similar impact on Texas businesses as a 2017 proposal to limit bathroom access to transgender individuals.
Dell Technologies CEO and Chairman Michael Dell also voiced his opposition on social media, saying that he opposed the Texas House version of the bill.
Delta and Coca-Cola, perhaps the two most visible companies in Georgia, faced heat after voicing their opposition to the voting bill, which had already passed both chambers of the statehouse. Georgia’s House of Representatives passed a bill that would have stripped Delta millions of dollars’ worth of tax incentives on fuel, but the state Senate didn’t take up the proposal before the legislative session adjourned.
At 2am, the Texas Senate advanced one of the most odious voter suppression bills in Texas history.
Georgia’s @Delta spoke out against similar bills. Will @AmericanAir & @SouthwestAir—both huge Texas-based companies—speak out against this blatant voter suppression in our state? https://t.co/00FdYYX4Wb
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) April 1, 2021
p class=”body-text-paragraph”>Some of the largest corporations in the U.S. have come out against attempts to change voting laws to make it harder to vote, including Apple, Facebook, JP Morgan Chase, Microsoft and the Business Roundtable, a group of 72 CEOS from major corporations.
The bills are being debated and passed even as a Minnesota court considers the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd. Floyd’s death was the spark for thousands of social justice protests across the country last year that focused on unfair treatment of Black Americans by law enforcement.
American Airlines leadership has made racial equity and diversity a major priority during the last year after social justice protests were held across the country. The company hired its first diversity officer at the beginning of 2020, and CEO Doug Parker has sent messages to employees saying that the company needs to increase diversity.
“We acknowledge how difficult this is for many who have fought to secure and exercise their constitutional right to vote,” American’s statement said. “Any legislation dealing with how elections are conducted must ensure ballot integrity and security while making it easier to vote, not harder. At American, we believe we should break down barriers to diversity, equity and inclusion in our society — not create them.”