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Patagonia will donate $1 million to support voting access in Georgia

The state recently passed a widely criticized voter suppression bill.

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 03: Demonstrators stand outside of the Georgia Capitol building, to oppose the HB 531 bill on March 3, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. HB 531 will add controversial voting restrictions to the state's upcoming elections including restricting ballot drop boxes, requiring an ID requirement for absentee voting and limiting weekend early voting days. The Georgia House passed the bill and will send it to the Senate. (Photo by Megan Varner/Getty Images)
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Patagonia is great not just because of its outdoor gear, but because it can be seen as an advocacy group that just so happens to make bangin’ merch. The company has a strong history of supporting environmental and social issues, and that continues with a hefty donation announced in support of voting access in Georgia.

The outdoor outfitter has pledged $1 million to be split equally to the New Georgia Project and Black Voters Matter Fund, a pair of grassroots organizations that ardently opposed the restrictive voting bill recently passed by the state senate.

“I call on fellow CEOs to join denouncing these attacks on our democracy and to do more than make a corporate statement, Patagonia CEO Ryan Gellert said in a statement. “The strength of our democracy depends on every vote being counted everywhere, and we must protect access to the ballot box.”

What’s in the bill? — Senate Bill 202, which was signed into law in March by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, contains a series of election reforms predicated on the lie that there was mass voter fraud during the 2020 election. It comes after Democrats secured the state for Joe Biden in the presidential election and won both of Georgia’s senate seats, a trio of surprising and landmark victories.

Under the new law, voters must show identification like a driver’s license in order to request an absentee ballot — and the cutoff for such applications is now 11 days before an election. The number of absentee ballot boxes to be placed around Georgia is now limited, and the time period for early voting has been restricted. Among other measures, volunteers have also been banned from giving out food or water to voters — a practice done without any ties intended to keep people waiting in line for long periods.

Robert Alexander/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Opposition against the new laws has been widespread from people who don’t support the big lie of the 2020 election. The MLB pulled its All-Star Game from Atlanta in response to the bill, and many companies including Coca-Cola, which is based in the state capital, have made statements criticizing the voter suppressing measures.

Patagonia goes a step further — Statements might sound nice, but Patagonia is putting its money behind its support of voting access and urging others to do the same. Its $1 million donation will be primarily used for voter registration and to increase civic engagement, but the company is also urging support to reverse Georgia’s new law and oppose similar measures from being taken in other states.

Kenna said Patagonia chose New Georgia Project and Black Voters Matter Fund, the latter of which is active across the country, “Because we want to support the groups that are involved in lawsuits challenging the recent bill signed into law in Georgia and that are effective grassroots community organizers.”

Now, we as individuals have to join the fight — and urge companies like Coca-Cola to pledge money instead of mere words.