A voting rights group will hold a protest March 25 at UPS headquarters in Sandy Springs on March 25 as part of a campaign urging corporations to oppose state legislation it says would suppress turnout and make it harder to vote.
The protest is planned from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at 55 Glenlake Parkway, said Fenika Miller, the state coordinator for Black Voters Matter.
“The majority of our work is partner-driven, and our partners across the state expressed … their concern with these voter suppression bills coming off of historic Black turnout in the general [election] and again in the runoff,” she said.
She said the partners were concerned that, instead of making it easier for people to vote and building on the successes of voter turnout, that state lawmakers were trying to suppress the vote and roll back the gains that had been achieved.
The reason why the group picked places to protest was a second issue, that of corporate accountability.
“Most of these corporations signed a pledge last year that they would be more attentive and focused and committed to racial equity, particularly after the summer of protests with the murders of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd and Breanna Taylor,” Miller said.
UPS, an international shipping company, said in a written statement that it supports legislation that ensures access to polls, but did not specify any bills.
“UPS believes in the importance of the democratic process and supports facilitating the ability of all eligible voters to exercise their civic duty,” the statement said. “Like other businesses in the community, we are working to ensure equitable access to the polls and the integrity of the election process across the state. We are also in continuous conversations with stakeholders to support the passage of legislation that accomplishes these important goals.“
BVM and its partners are asking the corporations to make good on their promises, she said. The corporations have not made strong enough statements opposing the legislation, which includes a voting omnibus bill that originated in the House of Representatives, HB 531.
“Which is really a slap in the face to all voters across the state, but in particular to Black and brown voters and voters and communities of color who have experienced some of these same tactics before,” Miller said.
Despite some of the proposals — including removing the no-excuses absentee ballot provision — being dropped from the bill, she said other issues remain. A bill would criminalize handing out water and snacks to voters who may have waited in line for hours in the heat. Local boards of elections could be stripped of their power and the Georgia Secretary of State would be removed as head of the state Board of Elections, Miller said.
BVM and its partners want corporations to signal stronger opposition to what they label voter suppression bills and to stop corporate donations to lawmakers supporting the bills.
BVM earlier this week held protests in Atlanta at the Home Depot Backyard at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce headquarters. Another protest is scheduled for March 26 at the Southern Company headquarters in Atlanta.
Other organizations have planned similar protests. A group called the Resurgens Collective announced a protest for the evening of March 23 at the Governor’s Mansion on West Paces Ferry Road in Buckhead.
Update: This story has been updated with comment from UPS.