Patagonia donates $1M to Georgia activist groups suing over election law
Patagonia hit back against Georgia’s election reform bill and is urging other companies to do the same.
The company is donating $1 million to two activist organizations, the Black Voters Matter Fund and the New Georgia Project, both of which have filed a lawsuit to stop the changes from being implemented.
Ryan Gellert, CEO of Patagonia, outlined his stance and the details of the donation in a blog post in which he urged business leaders to take three “important steps to defend the right to vote.”
Those steps are to donate to organizations supporting voter registration efforts; to send a letter to elected officials calling on them to pass the For the People Act, the election reform bill that has passed the House but not the Senate, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act; and to commit to reaching out to business partners about speaking out against state laws that would “restrict voting access.”
The New Georgia Project, the Black Voters Matter Fund, and Rise filed a lawsuit on March 25 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Vice Chairwoman of the Georgia State Election Board Rebecca Sullivan, and Georgia State Election Board members David Worley, Matthew Mashburn, and Anh Le were named as defendants.
A second group of civil rights organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, filed a separate lawsuit days later against Gov. Brian Kemp.
The bill Kemp signed will make numerous changes to the way elections work in the state. Some of the changes would alter the timing of runoff elections and alter the requirements for obtaining an absentee ballot, making it mandatory for voters to show identification. It will present state officials with the authority to take over local election boards in certain circumstances, and it would make it a crime for anyone other than election workers to approach voters in line to give them anything.
The law codified the use of drop boxes, which were used in 2020 under the guise of coronavirus prevention, but they will be placed in early-voting locations and will only be accessed during the business hours of the voting precinct.
The legislation “will only make it harder for Georgians of all racial, socioeconomic and political stripes — especially Black voters — to elect their representatives,” Gellert said.
Dozens of states are looking at ways to change the way voters cast their ballots following the 2020 election.
Republicans have adopted the mantra to “make it easier to vote and hard to cheat,” which means strengthening voter identification laws and promoting in-person, same-day voting. Democrats have called for automatic voter registration, and they want to limit voter identification requirements.