Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian on Wednesday called a new Georgia voting law “unacceptable” and “based on a lie” about widespread fraud in the 2020 election, according to a new report.
“I need to make it crystal clear that the final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values,” Bastian wrote in a memo to employees, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
He claimed the new voting restrictions will make it more difficult for underrepresented individuals, particularly black voters, to exercise their constitutional right to vote.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican, signed the bill into law on Thursday. The legislation calls for changing the rules and processes for requesting an absentee ballot, including mandating that voters present valid forms of photo identification.
The measure also limits drop boxes, which were implemented as a COVID innovation, and the early voting period for runoff elections and gives the state the authority to take over county elections or remove local elections officials.
The bill, which passed along party lines in both chambers of the state legislature, also prohibits food and beverages from being offered by outside groups to voters waiting in line to cast their ballots.
Kemp said in a statement he was surprised by Bastian’s comments, arguing that the airline did not raise any objections about the legislation.
“Today’s statement by Delta CEO Ed Bastian stands in stark contrast to our conversations with the company, ignores the content of the new law, and unfortunately continues to spread the same false attacks being repeated by partisan activists,” Kemp said.
Delta earlier this month called for a “fair, secure elections process” and did not express any opposition to the legislation.
Bastian, however, claims the company was working with legislators “to try and remove some of the most egregious measures from the bill.”
“We had some success in eliminating the most suppressive tactics that some had proposed,” he 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. That is wrong,” Bastian wrote in the memo.
“The entire rationale for this bill was based on a lie: that there was widespread voter fraud in Georgia in the 2020 elections. 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,” he said.
Delta’s latest memo comes after the airline and other Georgia companies have been threatened with boycotts by opponents of the new voting restrictions who charge that local corporations should have worked harder to intervene before the legislation passed.
Meanwhile, a group of black business executives are calling on America’s corporate leaders to stand up against what they see as efforts to restrict voting access.
“Corporations have to stand up. There is no middle ground,” said Ken Chenault, former American Express CEO, during an appearance on CNBC. “This is about all Americans having the right to vote, but we need to recognize the special history of the denial of the right to vote for Black Americans, and we will not be silent,” he added.