Georgia-based corporations tried to play both sides in a recent battle over a new law that enacts additional barriers to ballot access.
Several of the corporations have dodged direct questions concerning the wave of voter suppression laws, often hiding behind the chamber of commerce.
But a statement released by Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian, praising SB 202, raised alarms. LaTosha Brown, a co-founder of Black Voters Matter Fund, tweeted that the statement seemed like Delta wrote it in coordination with Gov. Brian Kemp’s team.
Bastian claimed the company was committed to fair and equal access to the ballot. The CEO of Delta, which has its headquarters in Atlanta, glossed over provisions such as barriers to mobile voting, preventing volunteers from handing out water and other line-warming activities, and additional restrictions placed on absentee voting.
Bastian’s statement also feeds into claims that SB 202 promotes greater election security, when there is no evidence warranting a genuine concern of election integrity and security.
While critics pointed out how Georgia’s Senate Republicans continued adding an increased number of voting barriers to the bill before it was signed into law, Bastian wrote that the “legislation signed this week improved considerably during the legislative process.”
He added: “We understand concerns remain over other provisions in the legislation, and there continues to be work ahead in this important effort.”
Any so-called “good” provisions within SB 202 are the fruits of a poisonous tree. “There’s no acceptable version of this bill partially because the entire premise is a lie,” Cliff Albright, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, previously told NewsOne.
Last summer, Bastian wrote a statement concerning Delta’s commitment to justice. In it, he highlighted a commitment to “actively seeking and supporting national and state legislation that fights discrimination and advocates for just and equal treatment.”
Other companies gave statements reiterating their support for fair and secure elections. But never once did their statements reconcile concerns about election security post-2020 rooted in the GOP’s original sin. A statement from Home Depot made it clear the company was focused on supporting pro-business and pro-retail candidates across the aisle with no indication on whether supporting voter suppression legislation would cause a candidate to lose the company’s support.
Even in discussing the law, Kemp has repeated proven lies about the security of the election and exaggerated presence of “issues.” But corporate statements dodge the many ways in which SB 202 and its proponents reinforce Donald Trump’s “big lie” that he was a victim of voting fraud. Coca-Cola, known for its “Share a Coke” slogan, also reinforced the rhetoric around integrity but failed to acknowledge the lack of integrity throughout the process.
Corporate leadership attempts to play both sides, appearing accountable to community partners and employees but also providing tacit support to lawmakers seen as being pro-business.
Calls for an economic boycott spread across social media after the passage of SB 202. Corporate accountability in democracy organizing has become a major topic after the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
Voting rights groups have been pushing back on Delta, Coca-Cola, Home Depot, and other Georgia-based corporations that were exposed for donations to elected officials who supported voter suppression and Trump’s big lie. Demanding corporate support for HR 1 and HR 4 could be the next major push in this ongoing accountability effort.
Anoa Changa is a movement journalist and retired attorney based in Atlanta, Georgia. Follow Anoa on Instagram and Twitter @thewaywithanoa.
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