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In shift, Delta CEO blasts new Georgia voting law

·2-min read
Delta CEO Ed Bastian slammed a new voting rights law in Georgia following a public outcry

Delta's CEO blasted a new voting rights law in Georgia on Wednesday, slamming the restrictive new measure after the company's earlier public neutrality prompted consumer boycotts.

Ed Bastian, chief executive of Atlanta-based Delta, said the state law is "unacceptable and does not match Delta's values," in a memo to company staff.

The measure, signed into law last week by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, imposes voter identification requirements, limits the number of voting drop boxes and enacts other restrictions, such as forbidding volunteers from giving water bottles to voters who can be forced to wait in line for hours.

Voting rights advocates had sought support from Delta and other big corporations in the large southern state, but the companies had largely stayed publicly quiet throughout a bruising legislative debate.

Georgia was one of the most hotly-contested states in 2020, with President Joe Biden narrowly prevailing over Donald Trump, who claimed falsely that he lost Georgia due to voter fraud.

Delta released a statement last Friday that said it "engaged extensively" with lawmakers in both parties to improve the bill, while adding that "there continues to be work ahead" on the matter.

However, the company faced consumer criticism, with the hash-tag #BoycottDelta trending on Twitter over the weekend.

On Wednesday, Bastian said "after having time to now fully understand all that is in the bill, coupled with discussions with leaders and employees in the Black community, it's evident that the bill includes provisions that will make it harder for many underrepresented voters, particularly Black voters, to exercise their constitutional right to elect their representatives."

Bastian also rejected the basis for the bill, which Kemp and other Republicans argued was needed to boost election integrity.

"The entire rationale for this bill was based on a lie: that there was widespread voter fraud in Georgia in the 2020 elections," Bastian said. "This is simply not true. Unfortunately, that excuse is being used in states across the nation that are attempting to pass similar legislation to restrict voting rights."

Coca-Cola, which is also based in Atlanta and faced calls for a boycott, has also come out against the law in recent days.

Alfredo Rivera, president of the company's North America operating unit, said the company was "disappointed in the outcome" but "don't see this as a final chapter."

"Voting in our country is a sacred right and duty, and we recognize we have a responsibility to protect it and promote it," Rivera said in a public statement.

jmb/dw