‘This bill was based on a lie’: Delta CEO blasts restrictive new Georgia voting law after activist pressure

Ed Bastian CEO Detla
CEO Ed Bastian. Delta Air Lines
  • Delta CEO Ed Bastian released a memo criticizing Georgia’s new voting law.
  • The new law addresses voter ID, absentee ballots, and other rules.
  • Activists pressured Delta and other companies for stronger condemnations.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian criticized Georgia’s recent voting law in a new memo.

“I need to make it crystal clear that the final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values,” Bastian wrote in the memo to the Atlanta-based company.

The law, SB 202, makes changes to nearly all aspects of voting and elections in the state, Grace Panetta reported for Insider. The most controversial provisions include a ban on volunteers giving water and snacks to voters waiting in line, more stringent voter ID laws for absentee ballots, and a ban on “ballot selfies.”

“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.

The CEO went on to criticize the basis for the bill as put forth by its supporters.

“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 wrote.

Read more: 
How early deals with Walmart and Loblaw are helping the self-driving truck startup Gatik make millions in revenue

Civil-rights groups and Democratic elected officials, including President Joe Biden, have condemned the law as voter suppression. Groups including the New Georgia Project, Black Voters Matter, and the Georgia NAACP have filed federal lawsuits against the state, calling the law a violation of the Voting Rights Act.

Activists have criticized companies for not doing enough to speak out against the bill. “#BoycottDelta” and “#BoycottCocaCola” have each been used in tens of thousands of tweets since March 23, The Atlanta-Journal-Constitution reported. “Do not fly Delta. Do not spend money with Delta. Boycott Delta. Ruin Delta,” the commentator Keith Olbermann tweeted.

Some activists considered Delta’s previous statement, which expressed general support for voting rights, lacking.

“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,” the statement read.

Coca-Cola and Home Depot, also headquartered in Georgia, are under similar pressure from activists.