Linebarger advocates voting access

Cummins Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger on Friday criticized efforts to restrict voting access across the country, acknowledging concerns of civil rights activists who say the measures target non-white voters and threaten the democratic process.

The statements from Linebarger came as some of the most prominent corporate leaders in the United States are publicly voicing opposition to a wave of GOP-sponsored election bills introduced in states across the country after former President Donald Trump made false claims about election fraud, including a new election law in Georgia and proposed legislation in Texas, The Associated Press reported.

On Thursday, the Business Roundtable, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit association of CEOs of leading companies in the United States, spoke out against the measures, calling on state officials across the country to “commit to bipartisan efforts” to expand voting access.

“The right to vote is the essence of a democratic society, and the voice of every voter should be heard in fair elections that are conducted with integrity,” the Business Roundtable said in a statement. “Unnecessary restrictions on the right to vote strike at the heart of representative government. … We call on elected officials across the country to commit to bipartisan efforts to provide greater access to voting and encourage broad voter participation.”

Linebarger, for his part, voiced support for the Business Roundtable’s statement, calling the measures to restrict voting access “discriminatory” and “largely aimed at our Black and brown citizens.”

“Cummins supports the Business Roundtable’s recent statement on the importance of voting, and we agree ‘the right to vote is the essence of a democratic society,’” Linebarger said in a statement. “We are active in and support efforts to advance voter accessibility and to make this fundamental right more broadly available. We are stronger as a nation when more people vote and are engaged in the civic process. We believe efforts to restrict voting access are discriminatory, largely aimed at our Black and brown citizens and have no place in the inclusive communities we are committed to building.”

The Georgia law adds a photo ID requirement for voting absentee by mail, cuts the amount of time people have to request an absentee ballot and limits where drop boxes can be placed and when they can be accessed, according to wire reports. It also bans people from handing out food or water to voters waiting in line and allows the Republican-controlled State Election Board to remove and replace county election officials.

Republicans in Georgia have argued the laws are needed to restore voters’ confidence.

In Texas, which already has some of the strictest voting laws in the United States, the proposed legislation grants more power to partisan poll watchers and eliminates the option to cast a ballot via drive-thru, according to wire reports. The bill also includes a provision requiring a doctor’s note for people with disabilities who want to vote by mail, although Republicans signaled during the debate that language could change.

Voting rights groups say the measures would disproportionately impact racial and ethnic minority voters.

“We call on elected officials — at the federal, state and local levels — to advance efforts to provide greater voting access,” Linebarger said in a statement. “We also call on leaders of companies and communities in every state around the country to do their part to make it clear that we will not tolerate discriminatory voting practices.

“Voting is a core civil rights issue, and we have been engaged in this battle far too long. We will not stop until voting is accessible to all people in our country. Anything less diminishes our democracy,” he said.

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