The CEO of Delta Air Lines — an Atlanta-based company — has now spoken out pointedly against wide-ranging elections reform legislation that Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed into law last week. The legislation includes an array of suppressive restrictions, like new voter ID requirements for absentee ballots, restrictions on the usage of absentee ballot drop boxes, a ban on mobile polling places, and more. The bill even includes a criminalization of outside organizations providing food and water to voters waiting in line — and in highly populated Black communities, polling place lines have sometimes been hours-long.
Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian just called the Georgia elections restrictions signed into law last week was “unacceptable” and “based on a lie” of widespread fraud in last November’s election. #gapol https://t.co/oJTtZZoY8f
— Greg Bluestein (@bluestein) March 31, 2021
In a memo to Delta employees, Bastian said that he wanted to “make it crystal clear that the final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values,” although he explained that the company had been lobbying “to try and remove some of the most egregious measures from the bill.” Bastian added that the company “had some success in eliminating the most suppressive tactics.”
Still, Bastian commented as follows:
‘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. 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.’
Bastian is correct — the Georgia legislation, like suppressive election-related legislation that Republican state legislators have proposed elsewhere, is connected to the false claim that there were security problems with the 2020 election. In fact, no court anywhere in the country ever accepted the idea that fraud was in any way responsible for Joe Biden’s victory in any state. The legislation is responding to a problem that — at least according to the claims of certain Trump-allied Republicans — does not actually exist.
There were some substantive electoral shifts in recent months — in November, Biden won Georgia in the first victory in the state for a Democratic presidential nominee since the 1990s, and in January, the state elected two Democratic U.S. Senators, both of whom replaced Republican incumbents and one of whom, Raphael Warnock, is the state’s first Black Senator ever. In the wake of these developments, Georgia Republicans came up with this suppressive legislation.
In his memo to employees, Bastian added as follows:
‘I know this result in Georgia has caused frustration, anger and pain for many members of our Delta family. I commit to you that as we move forward, Delta will do everything in our power to hear and protect your voice and your rights, both in Georgia and nationwide.’
The Georgia legislation is already facing a handful of court challenges. Warnock has to go back before voters in the 2022 elections, although at that point, if he wins, he’ll get a full six-year term.