The Producers Guild Of America (PGA) and SAG-AFTRA have become the latest Hollywood groups to speak out over Georgia’s controversial new voting law that critics say will restrict the ability of people of colour to make their voices heard at the polls.
The PGA expressed its disapproval on Twitter on Monday (April 5), hours after SAG-AFTRA top brass Gabrielle Carteris and David White urged members to stand against injustice and support fair legislation.
Hollywood studios continue to monitor the situation after Comcast, AT&T and ViacomCBS – owners of Universal, Warner Bros and Paramount, respectively – issued statements in support of accessible and fair elections last week.
Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola, both of which are headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, have spoken out against the law, and Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game will no longer take place in Atlanta.
The new legislation, passed into law by Republican governor Brian Kemp on March 25, imposes ID requirements on absentee ballot voters, restricts the use of ballot drop boxes, makes it a minor offence to provide water and food for voters waiting in line, and gives state election officials power to overrule local decisions.
Supporters say the law is necessary to restore confidence in the state’s election system.
The state was a flashpoint during last year’s presidential election. Former White House incumbent Donald Trump made unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in the state after he lost the election to Joe Biden. Democrats eventually took control of the Georgia senate after victories in runoff elections in January.
The Writers Guild of America has warned the new law could impact the state’s robust production business built on a highly attractive 30% tax incentive. The governor of New Jersey has contacted studio heads touting his state’s production incentives in a bid to attract more business.
Tyler Perry, whose studio is based in Atlanta, Georgia, invoked the memory of racist Jim Crow laws in the South to describe the legislation. Director James Mangold and actor Mark Hamill have said they will not work in Georgia.
However some activists including Stacey Abrams have urged against a boycott of the state and local businesses, arguing it will damage the economic prospects of underrepresented communities.
Last year the state was at the centre of another controversy over its ultimately unsuccessful “Heartbeat” anti-abortion law that drew the ire of Hollywood.