After a vague initial statement regarding the passage of a voter restriction bill in Georgia caused controversy for Delta Air Lines, fellow U.S. carriers American and Southwest airlines quickly came out against a similar bill in Texas where both are headquartered.
The Texas Senate passed legislation on April 1 with provisions that limit voting access, according to the CBS affiliate in Dallas. State Bill 7 makes it so public employees cannot distribute unrequested mail ballot applications and calls for consistent voting hours and in-person voting rules statewide. Proponents of the bill say it helps cut down on voter fraud; opponents claim it is less about restrictions than it is about suppression, particularly toward minorities.
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American made its stance known within hours of the announcement by the Texas Senate.
“To make American’s stance clear: We are strongly opposed to this bill and others like it. As a Texas-based business, we must stand up for the rights of our team members and customers who call Texas home, and honor the sacrifices made by generations of Americans to protect and expand the right to vote,” the airline said in a statement. “Voting is the hallmark of our democracy, and is the foundation of our great country. We value the democratic process and believe every eligible American should be allowed to exercise their right to vote, no matter which political party or candidate they support.”
American acknowledged the difficulty of securing the constitutional right to vote but said that any legislation dealing with how elections are conducted must ensure ballot integrity and security while making it easier to vote, not harder.
“At American, we believe we should break down barriers to diversity, equity and inclusion in our society – not create them,” the airline said.
Almost immediately, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick fired back.
“As Lt. Governor of Texas, I am stunned that American Airlines would put out a statement saying ‘we are strongly opposed to this bill’ [Senate Bill 7] just minutes after their government relations representative called my office and admitted that neither he nor the American Airlines CEO had actually read the legislation,” Patrick said according to CBS21. “…Texans are fed up with corporations that don’t share our values trying to dictate public policy. The majority of Texans support maintaining the integrity of our elections, which is why I made it a priority this legislative session. Senate Bill 7 includes comprehensive reforms that will ensure voting in Texas is consistent statewide and secure.”
Later, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines weighed in, saying in a statement, “The right to vote is foundational to our democracy and a right coveted by all. We believe every voter should have a fair opportunity to let their voice be heard. This right is essential to our nation’s success.”