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Delta CEO, Georgia governor spar over state's voter regulations

Georgia Gov. Brian KempBrian KempStacey Abrams on why she won't quit working: 'The world isn't fair yet' Georgia, South Carolina governors sign bills to pay college athletes Poll shows tight GOP primary for Georgia governor MORE (R) on Wednesday sparred with Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian over the business executive’s statement calling the state's sweeping voting bill signed into law last week “unacceptable.” 

Bastian in a memo to employees that was made public Wednesday clarified an earlier statement in which he appeared to defend the controversial law, which imposes several voting restrictions across Georgia, including requiring a photo ID for absentee voting and limiting the number of ballot drop box locations. 

The CEO of the Atlanta-based company initially said on Friday that it had worked with other corporations to try to remove “some of the most egregious measures” from the bill, which he added was “improved considerably during the legislative process.” 

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However, Bastian said Wednesday that while there was “some success in eliminating the most suppressive tactics that some had proposed,” the bill “is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values.”

The CEO also argued that 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,” Bastian added. 

Hours later, Kemp issued a statement directly responding to Bastian, claiming that he and state lawmakers “spoke directly with Delta representatives numerous times” while developing the bill. 

“At no point did Delta share any opposition to expanding early voting, strengthening voter ID measures, increasing the use of secure drop boxes statewide, and making it easier for local election officials to administer elections — which is exactly what this bill does,” the GOP governor continued in his statement shared with The Hill. 

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Kemp went on to say that Bastian’s statement “stands in stark contrast to our conversations with the company, ignores the content of the new law, and unfortunately continues to spread the same false attacks being repeated by partisan activists.”

“The truth is the Election Integrity Act expands voting access and protects the sanctity and security of the ballot box,” he said. “Mr. Bastian should compare voting laws in Georgia — which include no-excuse absentee balloting, online voter registration, 17 days of early voting with an additional two optional Sundays, and automatic voter registration when obtaining a driver’s license — with other states Delta Airlines operates in.”

Bastian’s memo Wednesday followed backlash for his earlier statement appearing to defend the law, with several calling on customers to boycott Delta and other companies such as Coca-Cola for not immediately condemning the new law, which has already been hit with multiple lawsuits less than a week after its passage. 

Kemp on Tuesday pushed back on calls to punish companies over the voting law, tweeting, “Boycotting Georgia businesses in the middle of a pandemic is absolutely ridiculous.”