Democratic officials Wednesday launched a two-pronged attack on states with new laws requiring identification before voting, the highlight being a call to boycott Coke, Walmart and others that back a leading organization pushing for voter ID laws.
Coke was quick to react to the political boycott threat, pulling support from the targeted group just five hours after it was called. Walmart said that support for a group does not mean it backs every decision by those groups.
At issue: Liberal claims that some states are trying to keep minority voters from the polls via voter ID laws, a suggestion conservatives call silly.
“We are organizing. We are not agonizing,” said Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., who is leading a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee effort to get government identification into the hands of the estimated 2-3 million Democrats who don’t have one. “We have staffed up,” he said.
Officials from another party-backed group, Color of Change, kicked off a boycott of Coke and other financial backers of the American Legislative Exchange Council which supports new voter ID laws. Other supporters include Walmart and Koch Industries. The boycott call started with a tweet (@CocaCola is helping undermine voting rights. Tell them to stop) and a webpage. The group also has tied the Council to the Trayvon Martin shooting case.
In caving into the economic threats, Coke told Secrets: "The Coca-Cola Company has elected to discontinue its membership with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Our involvement with ALEC was focused on efforts to oppose discriminatory food and beverage taxes, not on issues that have no direct bearing on our business. We have a long-standing policy of only taking positions on issues that impact our Company and industry."
Walmart didn't go as far as withdrawing support, but told Secrets: "Our membership in any organization does not affirm our agreement with each policy created by the broader group. Walmart has a long history of supporting voter rights, and we continue to be a strong proponent of this issue. In fact, Walmart was an active supporter in 2006 of the renewal of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. We believe every American should exercise their right to vote, and we have developed nonpartisan websites that provided thousands of our associates and customers with the tools they need to register to vote. One of Walmart’s basic beliefs is respect for the individual, and Walmart will continue to stand with all Americans in ensuring our right to vote."
Those efforts came on the heels of a new report released Wednesday by the Center for American Progress condemning new voter identification laws in Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Kansas and Wisconsin.
The group complained that some states want to limit the time allotted for early voting, bar ex-felons from voting and require government identification to vote. Polls show that most Americans back the laws. But Clyburn compared them to segregation era "Jim Crow" laws and he said that he is “very, very anxious” that the conservative Supreme Court “as it is presently constituted” will support the new anti-voter fraud laws.
Despite the complaints, several states attorneys claim that voter fraud is a growing concern, adding that requiring voters to show identification is not overly burdensome.