For years, the right wing has been trying to stop people of color, young people, and seniors from voting in order to help Republicans get elected — and now some of America's biggest companies, like Duke Energy, are helping them do it.1
Duke has helped pass discriminatory voter ID legislation by funding a rightwing policy group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Voter ID bills linked to ALEC have already passed in seven states, and similar voter ID bills have been introduced in 27 other states.
That's why we're joining our friends at Color of Change and a growing coalition of civil rights and environmental organizations calling on Duke Energy to end its support of this rightwing organization.
Supporters of discriminatory voter ID laws claim they want to reduce voter fraud (individuals voting illegally, or voting twice). But such fraud almost never actually occurs, and never in numbers large enough to affect the result of elections. What is clear is that voter ID laws prevent large numbers of eligible voters from casting a ballot, and could disenfranchise up to 5 million people.
The truth is that voter ID laws are discriminatory — African Americans, Latinos, seniors, students, and the poor are all less likely to have the photo IDs necessary to vote under these laws. For example, if you've recently moved because of foreclosure or some other economic circumstance, you're more likely to have an address that is not your current residence on your driver's license. If you don't have a car, you're less likely to have a driver's license in the first place.
ALEC's voter ID laws are undemocratic, unjust and part of a longstanding rightwing agenda to weaken the voting blocs that historically oppose Republican candidates. We have to expose the major companies like Duke Energy that are helping ALEC suppress the votes of millions of Americans before it's too late.
In addition to Duke Energy's role in funding ALEC's voter suppression attempts, Duke is also a member of ALEC's Environment, Energy and Agriculture Task Force, which shapes ALEC's climate change denial and dirty energy agenda. Legislation drafted and supported by this task force undermines local environmental protections, thwarts efforts to address climate change and prevents major polluters from being held accountable.2
ALEC's extreme anti-environment efforts, which Duke Energy plays a key role in shaping and supporting, directly contradict Duke's frequently stated support for legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change.3
In the past, Duke has been sensitive to public pressure calling out its hypocrisy on environmental issues. In 2009, after the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity was embroiled in a forgery scandal intended to mislead members of Congress about pending federal climate change legislation, Duke parted ways with the group, saying its activities were "not consistent with Duke Energy's work to pass economy-wide and cost effective climate change legislation as soon as possible."4
The same is now true of Duke's support for the American Legislative Exchange Council.
We hope Duke Energy will simply do the right thing and stop supporting ALEC. If they don't, we'll be prepared to shine a spotlight on them and make sure the world understands what they're involved in.