Georgia voting law reaction: Coca-Cola, Delta, others issue responses
ATLANTA - Activists are calling for boycotts of Georgia companies that hesitated to challenge sweeping election reform signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp on March 25.
The new law's critics said it is problematic because its restrictions inordinately affect minority voters. The law's supporters argue it institutes some common sense election security measures.
Activists say companies can do more by pulling political donations for lawmakers that co-sponsored the bill. Organizations have called to pull major sporting events out of the state in protest of the new law.
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A handful of Georgia companies reacted publicly to the news in the days following news the bill was now law.
The Coca-Cola Company
The Coca-Cola Company responded on March 26 with a statement saying, "we will continue to identify opportunities for engagement and strive for improvements aimed at promoting and protecting the right to vote in our home state and elsewhere."
On Wednesday, Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey told CNBC the law was "a step backward" to promoting a better society. In response to why he is opposing the bill strongly now, Quincey said Coca-Cola "always opposed this legislation."
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Delta Air Lines
On Wednesday, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said he needed to "make it crystal clear that the final bill is unacceptable."
"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," he said, "Unfortunately, that excuse is being used in states across the nation that are attempting to pass similar legislation to restrict voting rights."
Bastian was more subdued when he issued a statement to FOX 5 Atlanta following the passing of SB 202 highlighting some items in the legislation:
"Delta believes that full and equal access to voting is a fundamental right for all citizens. Over the past several weeks, Delta engaged extensively with state elected officials in both parties to express our strong view that Georgia must have a fair and secure election process, with broad voter participation and equal access to the polls. The legislation signed this week improved considerably during the legislative process, and expands weekend voting, codifies Sunday voting and protects a voter’s ability to cast an absentee ballot without providing a reason. For the first time, drop boxes have also been authorized for all counties statewide and poll workers will be allowed to work across county lines. Nonetheless, we understand concerns remain over other provisions in the legislation, and there continues to be work ahead in this important effort. We are committed to continuing to listen to our people and our communities, and engage with leaders from both parties to ensure every eligible employee and Georgia voter can exercise their right to vote"
Aflac provided a statement on March 18, days before the bill was signed into law:
"Aflac will only support solutions that make voting easy and accessible for every eligible voter while maintaining the security and transparency of the voting process. As legislators in Georgia continue to debate these issues, we will remain actively involved in the process to influence positive results that are aligned with Aflac's long history of supporting fairness and justice. Aflac will not support legislation that fails to accomplish these goals."
Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United
Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United Owner Arthur Blank said Tuesday afternoon he believes voting should be made "easier, not harder for every eligible citizen" and his business and non-profit partners plan to support efforts to advance voting access.
In a statement released on the Mercedes-Benz Stadium Twitter account, attributed to Blank, he said Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation leadership conveyed his sentiment directly to state officials in recent weeks.
A spokesperson for Home Depot issued a response to FOX 5 Atlanta on March 16, prior to the bill's passage:
"We believe that all elections should be accessible, fair and secure and support broad voter participation. We’ll continue to work to ensure our associates, both in Georgia and across the country, have the information and resources to vote. For example, we promoted voter participation in the last election through our internal Get Out The Vote initiative, confirming 15,500 voter registrations among our associates. In addition, we matched more than 1,800 associates with local opportunities to volunteer at polling locations across the country, including 600 technology worker volunteers in Atlanta to support complex technology issues and cybersecurity-related to the election. We also donated 9,200 plexiglass dividers across Georgia to help meet poll station safety requirements."
Bank of America
Bank of America on Wednesday issued a statement from Chairman and CEO Brian Moynihan regarding voting rights in the United States:
"The right to vote – and the vital work that must be done to protect access to that right – is a fundamental principle in the United States. Our history in fact is punctuated by the moments when we expanded that right to those to whom it had been denied too long. We must continue to right the wrongs of our past, and stand united in our advocacy for equal voting rights for all.
Our company’s recent, increased commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity is informed by our belief that we must seek every avenue to overcome the systemic obstacles to our democratic principles that have developed over many years. This includes obstacles to the right to vote."
State and local chambers of commerce
The Metro Atlanta Chamber released a statement, saying, "state and local governments should do everything possible to maximize voter participation and increase accessibility in our elections, while working to ensure election integrity."
The full statement was attributed to Katie Kirkpatrick, President & CEO of the Metro Atlanta Chamber:
"Over the past several months, among heated debates and divided opinions, the Metro Atlanta Chamber has engaged with members of the Georgia General Assembly in both parties clearly stating our values when it comes to elections: our state and local governments should do everything possible to maximize voter participation and increase accessibility in our elections, while working to ensure election integrity.
"The final version of SB 202 expands weekend voting, puts drop boxes into law for the first time, preserves no excuses absentee voting, requires poll watcher training, and allows poll workers to work across county lines. In addition, as a result of the conversation on elections, the state committed to providing a free state ID to all Georgians.
"Still, concerns remain in our region and across the state with aspects of SB 202. We will carefully monitor this legislation’s implementation, and we will lend our voice to help ensure that every eligible Georgia voter – regardless of political views, race or background – can engage in our voting process.
The Georgia Chamber of Commerce issued a public statement on March 25 commending the new law. In a month-old statement, the organization said, "we believe that it should be easy to vote, hard to commit fraud, and that Georgians should have faith and confidence in secure, accessible, and fair elections."
The full statement is transcribed below:
"In February, the Georgia Chamber stated that with respect to pending election legislation, we believe it should be easy to vote, hard to commit fraud and that Georgians should have faith and confidence in secure, accessible, and fair elections.
"Legislation, passed today, historically broadens access to the ballot box for all communities, provides for additional poll worker training, allows for poll workers to work across county lines, while also modernizing and addressing issues of security and transparency. Through codifying full access to weekend voting as well as drop boxes for all counties in our state, this legislation moves Georgia forward in expanding access to the ballot box while ensuring we remain a secure state in which to cast a ballot."
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