But she suggested that the business community could play a powerful role in changing minds and momentum surrounding the issue. Congress so far has been unable to pass voting rights legislation since President Joe Biden took office, and Healey said she was “disappointed” that West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin said he would not support the For the People Act. “The lengths that people seem willing to go to for purposes of holding on to power is unbelievable to me. It’s corrosive. It’s a cancer on our democracy and I don’t ultimately think it’s very good for business,” Healey said. “We’re America. We’re the United States of America. We shouldn’t be headed toward some kind of totalitarian, authoritarian regime. I don’t mean to be hyperbolic with those comments, but you got to see what’s going on right now.”
“I think what has been made clear in the last year is there are two forces in this country. Those who are fighting to protect our democracy and those who are trying to undermine it. And I think there’s a business case to be made for involvement in this space,” Healey said. And she made a forceful case for business leaders to speak out about voting rights around the country.
The Democrat urged business leaders to publicly support the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the For the People Act and to encourage their employees to participate through paid time off to vote or workplace voter registration drives. Healey’s office described the For the People Act as a package of reforms “to expand access to the ballot, protect elections from foreign interference, force disclosure of dark money in federal elections, and raise ethical standards for federal officials.” The Democrat spoke about ways employers can help address problems in Massachusetts like the high cost and availability of child care and wage gaps between white workers and employees of color.
In the wake of the 2020 elections, Healey’s office says “state legislators have seized upon baseless voter-fraud allegations to curtail mail-in voting options, impose stringent voter ID requirements, limit voter registration opportunities, and allow even more aggressive purging of voter rolls.” And Healey said the problem isn’t confined to southern states like Texas and Florida, pointing to New Hampshire where multiple bills have been filed that would make it harder for college students not from New Hampshire to vote there. According to the attorney general, more than 300 pieces of legislation have been filed in 47 states that would take steps to suppress voter participation, particularly Black voters. Her office joined roughly 50 multi-state litigation efforts to protect voting rights last cycle, she said.
“Know that there are some really bad actors out there who don’t have America’s interests in mind,” she said. Healey, whose own political future is up in the air, said she understood the temptation for business leaders to play both sides and spread political contributions to Democrats and Republicans, but she urged them to think twice about who they’re donating to before giving money.
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