Why didn’t Kentucky corporations sign the voting rights letter?

If you’ve been following the news, you know that voting rights are a big topic right now. Republicans across the country are passing voter/voting suppression laws, with the Georgia “we don’t like losing so you can’t vote” bill leading the way.

In response, a number of Black corporate CEOs and leaders called on other CEOs and corporations to step up and take a stand by condemning the Georgia law and its siblings. This led to numerous companies, including Coca-Cola and Delta, to issue statement sharply critical of the bill, and saying they stood with expanding voting rights, not limiting them.

Then, on Wednesday, hundreds of companies and individuals paid for and placed a two-page ad in the New York Times and the Washington Post. At the top is a bold headline “WE STAND FOR DEMOCRACY.” Underneath that heading is the following:

A government of the people, by the people.
A beautifully American ideal, but a reality denied to many for much of this nation’s history.
As Americans, we know that in our democracy we should not expect to agree on everything.
However, regardless of our political affiliations, we believe the very foundation of our electoral process rests upon the ability of each of us to cast our ballots for the candidates of our choice.
For American democracy to work for any of us, we must ensure the right to vote for all of us.
We all should feel a responsibility to defend the right to vote and to oppose any discriminatory legislation or measures that restrict or prevent any eligible voter from having an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot.
Voting is the lifeblood of our democracy and we call upon all Americans to join us in taking a nonpartisan stand for this most basic and fundamental right of all Americans.

There follows a list of hundreds of signatories, both companies such as Amazon, Starbucks, and Wells Fargo, and individuals including Warren Buffet, Paula Abdul, the president of Johns Hopkins University, and the commissioner of the NBA. (You can see the letter here.)

MIA – Kentucky

But you know who you WON’T find as a signatory on this statement in favor of voting rights?

Any companies, corporate officers, leaders, or well-known individuals from Kentucky.

No Humana. No UPS. No Toyota, or Yum Brands, or Kindred Healthcare. No politicians, no coaches, no business leaders.

None. Zero. Zip.

What conclusions, if any, can we draw from this?

Well, either (a) none of our companies or people were important enough to be contacted, or (b) they were contacted and they declined.

Considering the number of companies on that ad, I find it hard to believe that none of the major companies in Kentucky were asked to participate.

So, it seems reasonable to assume that at least some of our leading companies decided to pass when it came to standing up for voting right. Either they were more worried about their brand than about our democracy, or they were scared of the backlash from Trumpians across the state.

In either case, any company’s decision to refuse this opportunity to stand up speaks volumes about their values. And their continued silence, while their fellow companies and CEO’s continue to speak out, says even more about their values. After all, they could at least raise their hand and say “uhm, us too.”

But unless I’ve missed it (which is certainly possible), our Kentucky companies are off the playing field and on the sideline in one of the most important fights in our time: the fight for voting rights for all.

I guess democracy just isn’t that important to them.


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Bruce Maples has been involved in politics and activism since 2004, when he became active in the Kerry Kentucky movement. He has been President, Vice-President, and Treasurer of the Metro Democratic Club, and has served on the Democratic Party Executive Committee in Louisville. He began blogging in 2004, and currently operates two personal blogs (BruceMaples.com and brucewriter.com). He founded Forward Kentucky in the wake of the state elections in 2015, and expanded it in the summer of 2016.
He has lived in Louisville since 1992 with his wife and two sons.

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