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Microsoft expresses concern over Georgia's 2021 Election Integrity Act

The Visitor’s Center at Microsoft Headquarters campus is pictured July 17, 2014 in Redmond, Washington.
The Visitor’s Center at Microsoft Headquarters campus is pictured July 17, 2014 in Redmond, Washington. (Image credit: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images for Microsoft)

Brad Smith, the President of Microsoft, has taken to the company blog to speak out about the Election Integrity Act (via The Verge). In a post entitled "Why we are concerned about Georgia's new election law," Smith opens with a few statements outlining how much business Microsoft does in Georgia and how invested the company is in the city of Atlanta specifically. Smith then details how, as part of Atlanta's business community, Microsoft feels a need to voice its worries regarding the new act.

Smith's words are straightforward:

We are concerned by the law's impact on communities of color, on every voter, and on our employees and their families. We share the views of other corporate leaders that it's not only right but essential for the business community to stand together in opposition to the harmful provisions and other similar legislation that may be considered elsewhere.

He goes on to outline how the Election Integrity Act's restrictions on voting drop boxes and absentee boxes cause unnecessary trouble for average people looking to vote. "From our perspective, there is no rational basis for the Georgia legislature to authorize secure drop boxes but limit their use so severely," Smith writes.

This isn't the first time the President of Microsoft has spoken out about political matters. Within the past few months, Smith has both congratulated Joe Biden on becoming the president of the United States as well as defended Microsoft's donations to politicians who fought the certification of Biden's Electoral College results. Needless to say, Smith has kept himself busy navigating the trickiest of political tightrope acts. His statements regarding Georgia's Election Integrity Act further cement that we'll be hearing more of Microsoft's political views as the months roll on.

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to robert.carnevale@futurenet.com.

53 Comments
  • Microsoft, nobody cares. Keep making awesome software and gaming machines but please stay out of politics.
  • agreed. Why corporates have to pin their political colors to the mast is beyond me. Its only going to divide.
    Keep out of it, exactly.
  • There is literally never a time in history where companies are not putting their thumb on the scale in politics. It's literally inseparable.
  • Steve Jobs ("Why would I alienate half my customers?") and Michaeal Jordan ("Republicans buy sneakers too.") had it right: keep political opinions to yourself. It's one thing to lobby for policies that help your business, but to do the opposite, take sides in a separate political debate where reasonable people can reach reasonably different conclusions, is rude to customers, incites political infighting within the organization hurting morale, and is bad business with no real upside. No doubt he believes he's taking an ethical stance. Problem is that people who disagree also believe they are right and have the ethical position. Nothing good can come from this.
  • Yea, it's a delicate dance to not alienate customers but don't be fooled for one second to believe that companies aren't working hard lobbying and serving their own interests. Regarding elections, companies benefit by having a strong rule of law and fundamentally sound elections. That's literally the bedrock of this nation and their own existence can come into doubt as quite literally our whole democracy is in jeopardy. MS isn't dividing people. Search for the root cause for that political division rather than blaming MS.
  • This discussion, case in point. We're both MS fans, now divided by this issue. The opposing view to Smith's is that election results must have the faith of all voters, especially those on the losing side, which means anything that could increase risk of fraud undermines faith in the results, yielding the opposite effect you suggested MS wishes to endorse.
  • Understood. But I'd argue the issue is bigger than 47% of the population. Given that, it's important to make the distinction between faith and fact. There are nearly zero facts to support that the elections were fraudulent. It's largely based on speculation and theory. Every court case challenging the elections were lost and at every level up to the Supreme Court. The lost "faith" in elections is strictly an emotional component. As such, the response by the right could be a self fulfilling prophesy by implementing draconian election reform. The Georgia law that enables state election board officials (whom today are all GOP) to override local election boards (which are mixed), hands over too much power to one party and can absolutely be taken advantage of (and is exactly what Trump was asking to happen). At some point, you have to draw a red line to preserve democracy ...the very system that these companies have thrived in. If we lose our democracy, the bedrock of the companies turns into sand. So this genuinely isn't about alienating 47% of your customers. It's a bigger issue than that. And if it can't be resolved, this literally could devolve into civil war (as it has before) and it's a lose-lose situation for 100% of the citizens and the companies themselves. Not being dramatic. It's literally that important and why it's in their best interest to weigh in. This is a great convo, btw, and love that we keep it civil.
  • Reading all these comments about how companies should "stay out of politics" when they LITERALLY spend millions of dollars on lobbying really shows how clueless they are, honestly.
  • In my opinion the voter laws passed and under consideration are motivated by race and certainly are not rooted in fact. I applaud Microsoft for not supporting these laws! So count me as one who cares
  • You do realize that NY has the same laws, right? Also, what does it have to do with race? Georgia has set their hours for election day from 7AM to 7PM, then they have added better options to early voting, and then they've added weekends to vote for those who cannot make it on election day. It is those so ignorant who cannot look up simple information on their own, who perpetuate the racism and ineptness in this country. When Biden said that POCs didn't know how to get onto the Internet, that wasn't racist?
    When Biden went against bussing because he didn't want his kids to grow up in racial jungle, that wasn't racist?
    When Biden wrote the 1994 crime bill that reincarcerated blacks a hundredfold, that wasn't racist?
    When Biden came into the Senate 120 years ago (his words), his mentors were racists (Thurmond) and a KKK recruiter (Byrde), was that racist?
    Check out every Ghetto in the country... Who runs the city councils these ghettos are in? Who runs the cities these ghettos are in? Is that racist to keep them in poverty? I can continue with so much more, so please explain to me how Georgia expanding hours to help voters is racist, but the Democrat Party is okay?
  • this isn't about "politics". it's about common sense and how nonsensical what Georgia and other Republican domains are doing. well, completely sensical in voting suppression. standing up for what's right is always right.
  • That is entirely opinion. It hurts everyone and the discussion when people call opinions facts, because the means anyone who disagrees is a liar, and calling someone a liar (or a racist) pretty much shuts down the discussion. It is OK to disagree. In fact, the best outcomes typically come from debate so that the good ideas rise to the top and the bad ones fall aside. That doesn't make someone racist or bad for having differing priorities or views on how to achieve them. Good leaders and wise people seek out opposing views in order to have the debate and find the best option.
  • I haven't read the bill, but from what I've read, the issue is with requiring an ID in order to vote. I'm not sure how asking people for identification to prove who they are before they exercise the privilege of voting is suppression. A quick search indicates about 11% of Americans, mostly from poorer areas, do not have a government issued ID. An ID can be obtained from any DMV as long as the person has a birth certificate, passport, naturalization papers or visa. It sounds to me like we need to create programs to help people get an ID, which would be helpful for not just voting, but for many other activities in life. If we don't protect voting in this country, we will become a banana republic in which none of us will enjoy living.
  • I have several "issues" with your statement but it's not aimed at you since I regularly hear this position that what's so bad about presenting an ID.
    First, the worst part about the massive Georgia overhaul is the law that enables the legislature to overtake local election boards and recertify elections. This hands over election results to partisan decision makers. What could go wrong?
    Second, the "banana republic" comment suggests that we already have rampant voter fraud. We don't. Nobody has ever been able to demonstrate voter fraud has flipped any substantial state wide or national election.
    So the better question to ask yourself is what is the motivation of the law makers for passing this bill? Seriously, ask yourself that question. Once you understand the intent of the law, the specifics of each new law has to be viewed in that context. I don't believe for a second the intent is to improve election security as there is no factual data to support that election security was legitimately compromised. Trumps own commission in 2017 was shut down and never produced any evidence. The only evidence they found turned out to be a republican who doctored the figures about voter registration lists.
  • The states usually will offer a state ID for free or low cost to anyone. Contacting the state capitol where you were born will get a birth certificate. Many cities have programs where they will help people get an ID. You need an ID to cash a check, open a bank acct, travel, get food stamps, welfare, etc... Want to buy cigarettes or alcohol, you need an ID. Protecting our voting is crucial as their are people who will tell you it's all about race.
  • If the root cause is that many voters don't have ID, why not pass a law that makes it easier for everyone to get an ID? The worst part about the law is that the state legislature (which is controlled by GOP) can take over local elections (which is Dems in all the big cities). That has nothing to do with IDs.
  • NYC has been doing what Georgia is doing now, please explain why you aren't mentioning the Democrats. Please see my above post to educate yourself about what Georgia has done.
  • If you think Microsoft "getting into" politics is "bad", wait until you hear what lobbyists do for a living!
  • I care. The right to vote is (or, should be) a fundamental right that should be afforded to every, single American who is legally eligible to vote. These laws, specifically the Georgia law, are nothing other than Republican attempts to disenfranchise voters, particularly those of color, and make it harder to vote, and really have nothing to do with a problem that doesn't even really exist in this county - voter fraud (c'mon, you can't serve food or water to voters waiting in line? What does that have to do with election security?!). Big corporations and tech companies have a large amount of influence, particularly monetary, and I absolutely applaud companies like Microsoft for speaking out against these voter suppression tactics.
  • If that is true, then why has NY been doing it for years? Your comment shows everyone what ignorance looks like. Thank you for being the poster boy for uneducated, inept, ignorance.
  • Your ignorance is astounding. Show me chapter and verse of what SPECIFICALLY disenfranchises anyone. You don't even have that one thing you are complaining about CORRECT. That's complete disinformation.
  • Sorry but as a black person myself, I see nothing wrong with the bill and tired of these companies and Democrats constantly victimizing us. Most other countries in the world requires ID for voting and doesn't accept mail-in voting except for citizens living abroad or in certain situations, even during the pandemic. If troves of people can go to the grocery store and shop or huge crowds protesting, they can still vote (while wearing a mask and distanced). I'm actually shocked at how loose the rules are in the US compared to other countries. And regarding accepting snacks/drinks from the public at the polls... again, lots of places do that as well because you don't know if that food/drink is contaminated or poisoned or what not, especially when politics is involved. Just like companies giving out food have strict protocols for that, so should anyone who gives them out, which they can't regulate that when it's the public giving it. These companies need to stop getting involved in politics except for being their service providers. It's already obvious Big Tech is already at a point where they have a bigger voice than governments these days.
  • I'm not as concerned about the specifics of the law and more concerned about the intent behind why they chose to pursue such strong measures.
    Regarding the new laws, easily the worst law in the bunch is that the legislature (that is solidly republican) now has the authority to over rule local election boards. Had this law been in place, Trump would have been successful in "finding 11,000 votes" because the board that certified the election would have been replaced with friendly officials. THAT is draconian. This passing out water business is just a distraction.
  • Ding Ding, Ding... Give this person the prize. This law is one more step to an autocratic state... And thankful that MSFT is using it's loud voice to speak to this issue. As long as the SC believes that businesses have political free speech, than consumers should expect businesses to use that voice responsibly.
  • So you're black but you see no problem with a law being passed, specifically designed to suppress the votes of people of color, based on unproven claims of voting fraud from a former president that was a compulsive liar. Oooookayyy.......
  • Many other countries allow mail-in voting, and many US states have been doing it for years, with little to no problem. There are rigorous security measures used in mail-in voting, and every American should be afforded the opportunity to mail-in their ballot, particularly when there's no national holiday/time off from work to vote. This is the 21st century. If you can securely do your banking online, you should be able to vote by mail-in ballot.
  • You are conflating absentee voting with mail-in voting. One is fine. The other was universally derided by both parties until the pandemic,specifically because it allows for and incentives fraud.
  • There is no glossing over what they are doing in Georgia--it is absolutely state-sponsored racism. Everyone, every organization and every corporation should be coming out against it. Hopefully Microsoft will take a stronger stance than that if law is not withdrawn or struck own.
  • Take a chill pill Mythos13. If you look at the facts and the changes, they are all reasonable and similar to many states. BTW, Black voter participation is high and exceeds most other racial groups. This is not about voters being able to cast a vote, it is about trying to simplify and speed up the process of counting the votes. And making sure the rules for in-person voting are similar to the rules for mail-in voting, such as providing an ID to vote. I have been voting in GA since 1992. Each cycle we hear the same song, voter suppression. Now guess what. Every cycle more blacks vote and at higher participation rates. IT is why Biden won and we elected two Democratic Senators.
  • Analysis from Upshot, "Joe Biden put Georgia in the Democratic column for the first time since 1992 by making huge gains among affluent, college-educated and older voters in the suburbs around Atlanta, according to an Upshot analysis of the results by precinct. The Black share of the electorate fell to its lowest level since 2006, based on an Upshot analysis of newly published turnout data from the Georgia secretary of state" But now they want to suppress the black vote even more. They already reduce the number of polls in black areas which results in long lines that take up to 8 hours to vote. Now they're trying pass a law that no one is allowed to give them water while in line! What the hell is wrong with you that think that is acceptable. And what the hell is wrong with the Georgia Republican party that they think people are going to roll over accept blatantly racist tactics.
  • Please show us some Facts of where the Georgia election security was compromised to the extent that the outcome could have been compromised? Asking because if we spend public money, it should go to fixing real problems ...not theoretical problems.
  • Facts: Georgia has been in the Republican column since 1996. In 2020, people had more accessible options for voting than ever before. More US citizens voted in 2020 than ever before. About 900,000 more Georgians voted in 2020 than in 2016. Georgia went blue in 2020. Now in 2021, the Republican trifecta legislature in Georgia passes a law to restrict access to voting. Opinion: If you're not winning the game, change the rules? Microsoft has every right to speak up. Corporations are people after all, right Mitt? Let the market decide if you want to buy a My Pillow, or a Surface.
  • Those are all fair and valid points. However, I would add to that: there is tremendous lack of trust in Georgia's vote counting. Maybe that's misplaced or maybe it's for some of those stats you raised about a sudden surge of votes when voting shifted to mail-in voting (which has been agreed by all prior bi-partisan studies as increasing opportunity for fraud). Either way, giving everyone (especially the losing side) confidence that the vote has full, unimpeachable integrity is important. To the extent that is the effect, I would support it. I would also agree that any changes purely to help one side or party over the other are bad and should be removed. My personal opinion has always been that voting should be held on one day, and in person with reasonable absentee ballot exceptions for people who can't (military so out-of-state, disabled, etc.). It is already law that people are allowed to vote and can't be punished at work for doing so. If you don't care enough to go and vote, your vote shouldn't count. It is a civic responsibility not something you should be able to do on your phone (or similarly by dropping it in the mail). Again, that last part is just my opinion. I respect that others would disagree with that.
  • Now that we had the election, we don't need to look at "studies". Now we can look at real world election results. The results are in. No fraud.
  • Kros, that's incorrect. There were thousands of cases of fraud. There were hundreds of convictions for voter fraud. These were not enough to change results, but don't say there was no fraud. Further, most of the court rulings, including SCOTUS, were on standing, not on the facts. This means there were potentially hundreds of thousands of even millions of cases that were never fully investigated. I don't personally subscribe to that belief, but that's the danger in murky voting. You can't use the circular logic: we have a system that doesn't allow for investigating or challenging voting methodology, so of course none was found, and so therefore the system has no problems.
  • Sorry, I paid a lot of attention and never saw any cases of fraud that were out of the ordinary. So not sure what problems we were trying to solve. There were something like 80 court cases around the 2020 election and the GOP lost 79.5 of them. There was one case that was split. If there were genuine cases of potential fraud and the GOP never filed suit for those cases, I don't understand then what is at contention. Please cite examples of actual fraud for my education. Otherwise, the circular logic you cite is moot cause it's hypothetical logic and not based in fact.
  • It's funny how people who are left leaning are always the ones against voter ID and measures to prevent voter fraud. It's the same here in the UK, I'm sure the fact that the overwhelming amount of electoral fraud convictions in the UK are committed by those on the left is purely coincidental.
  • A similarly interesting metric: in surveys conducted in the US, the majority of blacks agree that voter ID is not racist. In fact, many responded that it was more racist to suggest that blacks can't figure out how to get an ID or don't have them at the same rates as whites. In the US, if you disagree with the left, it's racist (or sexist, or something else that is effectively name calling, rather than a willingness to discuss the policy on its merits). Actual racial issues have nothing to do with it; it's purely a political cudgel.
  • I agree that requiring ID to vote isn't racist in and of itself. However, behind every law there is intent. So what is the intent of the people that are pushing voter ID requirements? Turns out, looking at real people in the real world it's really easy to find overlap with racial undertones as a contributing factor behind their intent. Why don't I ever hear Republicans saying things like: "Yes we require ID but we are simultaneously going to initiate an effort to get those 11% of people properly registered" "We are going to make it easier for them to vote ...not harder". ...but we never hear that second part. Why is that?
  • I agree with you on this one -- clearly each party prioritizes their own power over doing what's good for the country. Same reason Dems in Congress are pushing HR-1 at the federal level. However, I'd also say that when it comes to the effects of legislation, the intent matters far less than the actual text of the law in the end. Often, laws are passed by compromise, where intent is lost in the haggling that occurs to get enough votes to pass.
  • I think that's a bit of a cop out answer. Intent is very important and I think people should be on record stating it. If the intent of the law gets so watered down that the law does not fulfill the original intent, then why bother at all?
  • I'm a Georgia voter in favor of evidence-based policy and can confirm that these voting changes are spurred by the false belief that there is a deep state conspiracy to steal elections. That's reason enough to make noise about the new laws, but there's also the aspect of the law that allows the GA General Assembly to overturn individual district election decisions, which should not be the purview of the legislative body. The law isn't all bad, but it has bits that are bad are bad enough to call out if you support a stable representative democracy, which believe it or not is important to the success of capitalist components in our society (e.g. Microsoft).
  • I think your missing the point of this new set of voter regulations.
    I am in California, but from my perspective the reasoning behind this is not for you. You already said so when you stated you felt there was an atmosphere or segment who believed the election was stolen or rigged.
    I can't say one way or the other on that, but I did watch some shady dealings on election night.
    There really should be complete transperancy in our election process as well as complete confidence in the results or our nation is lost.
    So, enacting constinecy across voting booths with matching hours of operations, additional days of early voting. More pooling locations. Removal of dead or moved voters off voting roles. Less ability for outsiders to handle sensitive voter ballots restricted to authorized staffing. So on and so on.
    Requesting an absantee ballot is a simple request away. No one is being disenfranchised by securing our election process.
    Lastly, vaccine ID passports are coming if the Biden Admin gets its way. Is that somehow OK for black to get and show to move about. Yet IDs for voting, to prove you are making an honest cast legitimate somehow is a racist move.
  • It's simple really. Find ways to make it easier for people to vote. If it's voter ID, then make it a goal for all voters to get an ID. If it's long lines, then outfit polling statations with water. Or how about adding more polling stations or booths per station? We are bickering over the specific actions instead of addressing root causes. But it seems clear the intentions isn't really about boosting voter turnout with clear transparency. The real world result of every action so far equates to less votes... Not more. Why is that.
  • Gestalt, I generally agree with your points that a legislature should not be able to invalidate elections of its own members -- that promotes self-dealing (same issue with the Democratic House currently look to unseat the Republican woman who just barely won in Iowa) and also that a free and stable democracy (or republic as in the US) is important to the success of a capitalist society. However, it doesn't take a "deep state" conspiracy for there to be election problems, just bias on the part of a few, maybe as little as one, person/people involved in the election process and ballot counting. Any legislation that reduces the opportunity for a bad actor to cause problems, whether as a voter or an election official, provided it doesn't impede other forms of freedom, is a good thing. This is simple logic: trustable elections are as important as honest elections for the voters (especially those on the losing side) to have faith in the results. Without trust in the results, even if there were no fraud, there is no free and stable democracy.
  • The election integrity act in Georgia is to curb down illegal and fraudulent votes cast and to return some confidence to the election process after the disaster at the November 2020 contest.
    No one is getting sidelined and in fact the pools will be open in all areas longer and be consistent in operational time. Adds several days to early voting as well as streamlines the voter roles.
    If people in this country can somehow survive the impending vaccine Id passports those in power look to implement, we can handle Id at the voter booth.
  • Please provide evidence of illegal and fraudulent votes. I haven't seen any ...or at least any that would sway the outcome of an election. I'd also like to see Republicans initiate a campaign to get everybody legitimate IDs and get them properly registered. Everybody is the operative word.
  • Reading the comments here helps to emphasize a point. We are so divided, fueled by mainstream and social media, that having a conversation these days about almost anything results in people getting emotional, and productive conversation cannot occur. People act worse than little children and throw temper tantrums when others don't agree with them. And why a company, that stands to lose half of its business, would then jump into the middle of this and take sides, is beyond me. If Microsoft chooses the leave Georgia, or any other state that enacts voter laws they disagree with, that's fine. They have that right. But they need to understand that alienating their customers can have very real consequences. I have been a huge supporter of Microsoft. But now that I know they are willing to use their position to threaten and coerce, I will never purchase another MS product again.
  • Pretty much agree with all of this, but I would say that this discussion here has actually been fairly positive with valid points raised and responses on the issues rather than the more typical name calling when there is disagreement.
  • Yeah, imagine if American elections suddenly start being secure and can't be stolen as easily as the 2020 ones were?!
    Democrats would never make it again. So they claim requiring proof of identity like a voter ID is now "racist"... Even though it's something basic, used by dozens of countries around the world. Let's face it: Democrats de facto lost the 2020 election and they know once the pandemic is gone it'll be a lot harder to steal an election with out-of-State people voting, fraudulent mail in ballots, 4am spikes, hackable machines and dead people rising from the grave to cast a ballot for a child-sniffer. And Microsoft, like the rest of Big Tech, is in bed with the Democrats. Always have been. Georgia is doing the right thing and making sure elections are actually secure and the ridiculously blatant fraud the World witnessed in 2020 won't happen again. Democrats just don't like their scams to be exposed. Proof of that is that they refused to immediately hold a full blown Congressional audit of the 2020 Election the moment President Trump raised concerns about the fraud. Anyone with a clean conscience would have immediately said "let's thoroughly investigate it". Democrats refused that. And now they're trying to push the narrative that voter IDs are "racist" to try to shut down debate. Because they think labels are arguments and they can intimidated discourse by throwing them around.
  • Clearly, they haven't actually read the Act. MS, as with so many others, jumped to conclusions, ran off half-cocked based on what someone else (a liberal) said about it.
  • What's ironic about the 2020 election is that if it were performed as it was here but in a developing country that the US was helping to monitor the election, the US would refuse to certify it. Liberals in the US are always touting the way things are done in Canada and the EU, well the fact is they do not do mass unsolicited mail voting. Why? Because they are insecure... which is just common sense. And installing voting machines manufactured by a company founded in Venezuela and not even head quartered in the US? How brain dead do you have to be to think that would be alright? And, frankly, its racist for dems to keep claiming that blacks and others are too... incompetent... to have IDs as if they are morons or something. A little vid on that... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yW2LpFkVfYk Voting is the most important responsibility you have as a citizen of a country. Ensuring ahead of time that you are properly on the voting rolls and then showing up in person to vote and having proof of identity is very little to ask for.
  • Common sense would also tell you the world is flat ...it's not. Stay off the conspiracy sites. All the votes in GA were hand-counted ...twice. Dominion is irrelevant. If the GOP were interested in voter integrity, they should lead a campaign to get every citizen an proper ID. Why don't they do that?