David Hecker: Corporations should stop funding politicians who back voter suppression

July 20, 2022 3:36 am

Elections staff are receiving ballots from drivers, allowing voters to walk-in and submit their ballots at City of Detroit Election Commission headquarters, Aug. 3, 2020 | Ken Coleman

Sometimes it is hard to live our values. We try hard to do so, and I for one, know that at times I falter.  

But while slipping at times is understandable, there are lines we must strive never to cross. Voting rights is not a complicated issue. It’s a question of fundamental values — justice, equality, freedom — that we all have an obligation to support.

Of course, voter suppression laws are not new; there is a long history of efforts by white supremacists and the political right to keep voters, particularly Black and brown voters and other members of marginalized communities, from making their voices heard in our elections by limiting access to the ballot box. 

Defend Black Voters banner at the Mackinac Policy Conference, June 2, 2022 | Laina G. Stebbins

The current wave of anti-voter bills and initiatives in Michigan and throughout the country are the work of 2020 election deniers, although numerous audits have proven this was the most secure election in our state’s history.  

Corporations support elected officials and candidates who they believe are best for their company’s operations and finances. That is understandable.  

I must admit that, while very, very rarely, my union might buy a ticket to a fundraiser of someone who we disagree with on most issues because they chair a key committee. The extreme policies Michigan Republicans have promoted over the last few years, fueled by Trump’s Big Lie, have led me to reconsider how we deal with these situations.

If you ask corporate leaders, I think the overwhelming majority would say they oppose voter suppression. The more cynical among us would say these corporations say they are opposed to voter suppression because they market to Black, Brown and other marginalized populations, those most directly impacted by voter suppression laws. 

Despite my usual cynicism, I must say that I believe the corporate leaders I personally know when they say they oppose voter suppression.  

There are good people working in our corporate community, some of whom I work with on various issues, many representing companies that make a real difference in funding  non-profit organizations doing good work.

So I ask, if a corporation’s values say it opposes voter suppression, should that impact who they support politically? Shouldn’t they stop funding candidates who, while good for their business, support voter suppression?


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David Hecker
David Hecker

David Hecker was the president of AFT Michigan. Previously, he was secretary-treasurer of the state federation. A member of the AFT executive committee, Hecker was first elected as an AFT vice president in 2004.