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Georgia governor defends voting law amid corporate backlash

Georgia Gov. Brian KempBrian KempGeorgia governor signs bill barring large cuts in police budgets Stacey Abrams on why she won't quit working: 'The world isn't fair yet' Georgia, South Carolina governors sign bills to pay college athletes MORE (R) on Wednesday dismissed criticisms raised by business leaders over the state's recently passed voting bill.

“I’m glad to deal with it,” Kemp said of the corporate backlash while appearing on CNBC's “Closing Bell.”

“If they want to have a debate about the merits and the facts of the bill, then we should do that,” he added.

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Voting rights activists have condemned the bill, which limits ballot box drop-offs, enacts new voter ID requirements and prohibits giving food and water to voters waiting in line on Election Day. Many critics say it would disproportionately affect voters of color.

On Wednesday, executives from Delta and Coca-Cola, which are both headquartered in Atlanta, called the recently signed voting legislation unacceptable. On the same day, 72 Black business leaders signed a letter calling for companies to speak out against the bill in an effort led by former American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault and Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier.

“There is no middle ground here,” Chenault said in the letter. “You either are for more people voting, or you want to suppress the vote.”

“I would encourage these CEOs to look at other states that they’re doing business in and compare what the real facts are to Georgia,” Kemp said Wednesday evening.

Kemp claimed that the bill actually expanded voter access, according to CNBC, pointing to a provision that expands in-person early voting hours.

Shortly after Delta CEO Ed Bastian released a statement condemning the Georgia voting bill, Kemp responded in a statement, claiming he and other state lawmakers “spoke directly with Delta representatives numerous times” while making 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,” Kemp said in a statement shared with The Hill.