Delta Airlines Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian on Wednesday issued a memo blasting SB 202 – Georgia’s draconian new voter ID law – less than a week after the company had sung the legislation’s praises.
On Friday, March 26th, Delta – which is based in Atlanta – said in a statement:
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.
Delta has since changed its tune, however, due to the enormous amount of public scorn SB 202 has generated. In an attempt to save face, Bastian wrote on Wednesday that the “final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values.”
What, exactly, was he expecting from Republicans?
“Last week, the Georgia legislature passed a sweeping voting reform act that could make it harder for many Georgians, particularly those in our Black and Brown communities, to exercise their right to vote. Since the bill’s inception, Delta joined other major Atlanta corporations to work closely with elected officials from both parties, 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,” wrote Bastian.
“However, I need to make it crystal clear that the final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values. The right to vote is sacred. It is fundamental to our democracy and those rights not only need to be protected, but easily facilitated in a safe and secure manner,” 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 continued.
Bastian also said that the “entire rationale” for SB 202 was “based on a lie” that voter fraud ran rampant in the 2020 election.
“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. So there is much work ahead, and many more opportunities to have an impact. I want the entire Delta family to know that we stand together in our commitment to protect and facilitate your precious right to vote. That’s why we invested heavily in our get-out-the-vote efforts last year, and we can all be proud of Delta’s contribution to the historic voter turnout in 2020,” said Bastian.
He concluded Wednesday’s memo with a promise – that “Delta will continue to do everything in our power to hear and protect your voice and your rights, both in Georgia and nationwide.”
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.