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Financial Firms, CEOs Assert Americans' Right to Vote in New York Times Ad

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What You Need to Know

  • The ad spanned two full pages with the headline
  • Its signatories included Mellody Hobson and John W. Rogers Jr., of Ariel Investments; Warren Buffett; and Larry Fink.
  • Corporate signatories included BlackRock, Vanguard, Goldman Sachs, T. Rowe Price and Cambridge Associates.

Hundreds of individuals, corporations and nonprofits were signatories in a double-page spread in the New York Times on Wednesday defending the right to vote in the United States and opposing any discriminatory legislation that restricts that right, including some leading financial firms and their leaders.

Among the signatories of the “We Stand for Democracy” pledge were Mellody Hobson and John W. Rogers Jr., the co-CEOs of Ariel Investments, who were listed as original signatories; BlackRock CEO Larry Fink; State Street Chairman and CEO Ronald O’Hanley; Citi CEO Jane Fraser; and Warren Buffett.

Corporate signatories included financial firms BlackRock, Vanguard, Goldman Sachs, T. Rowe Price, Wells Fargo, Broadridge Financial Solutions and Cambridge Associates.

Altogether some 700 individuals and institutions were listed in the ad, which extolled the words from Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, “a government of the people by the people.”  They also included celebrities like George Clooney, Leo DiCaprio, Shonda Rhimes and Katy Perry.

Restrictive Voting Bills

The ad was in response to the growing number of legislative actions that multiple states are undertaking to restrict voting.

As of March 24, legislators have introduced 361 bills with restrictive provisions in 47 states, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan law and policy institute at NYU Law School. Five restrictive bills have already been signed into law, including legislation in Georgia, which requires that absentee voters prove their identity when requesting and returning their ballots, prohibits people from handing out food and water to voters waiting in line and empowers a state board of elections to remove local election officials.

The greatest number of voting restriction bills have been filed in four states — Georgia, Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania — which are also among the states with the closest votes in the 2020 presidential election, according to the FiveThirtyEight website.

“We all should feel a responsibility to defend the right to vote and to oppose any discriminatory legislation or other measures that restrict or prevent any eligible voter from having an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot,” reads the Times ad. “Voting is the lifeblood of our democracy and we call upon all Americans to join us in taking a nonpartisan stand for this most basic and fundamental right of all Americans.”

The advertised statement was organized by Kenneth Chenault, a former chief executive of American Express, and Kenneth Frazier, the chief executive of Merck, who were among 12 people listed, along with the Black Economic Alliance that paid for the ad.