Stacey Abrams slams 'mealy-mouthed responses' to Georgia voting law

Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams tore into the “mealy-mouthed responses” from companies based in the state over a controversial election law that was passed last month that critics say amounts to voter suppression. 

“The companies that stood silently by or gave mealy-mouthed responses during the debate were wrong,” Abrams said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “What people want to know now is where they stand on this fundamental issue of voting rights.” 

Abrams, who rose to prominence with her high-profile 2018 gubernatorial bid, said she did not think a boycott of the companies was necessary “yet,” but her remarks marked an escalation from her earlier comments this week.

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Abrams said she was “deeply disappointed” that the companies only spoke up after the bill was signed into law but hoped it was the start of further criticism. 

“Hopefully, we’ll build such a hue and cry that the Legislature will have to correct what they’ve done,” she said. “But these companies sell their products across the country, and across the country there are Black and brown voters who need to know they’re not being left behind.”

The remarks from Abrams, who is widely credited with helping Democrats win the presidential race and two Senate contests in Georgia, come amid mounting pressure from liberals for the private sector to act over the controversial law.

Democrats have floated boycotts of Georgia-based corporations like Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines after they did not swiftly condemn the voting bill signed into law last week, and others have called for Major League Baseball's All Star Game to be moved from Georgia. 

Following the pressure, both Coca-Cola and Delta came out swinging against the law, with Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey calling it “unacceptable” and “a step backwards.”

The law will impose strict restrictions on voting, including mandating photo IDs for absentee voting, curtailing the number of ballot drop-off boxes and making it illegal for people other than poll workers to provide food or water to voters as they wait in lines to cast their ballots. 

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Abrams on Wednesday had said boycotts could unintentionally hurt people they are designed to help.

“One lesson of boycotts is that the pain of deprivation must be shared to be sustainable,” she said Wednesday.

“Otherwise, those least resilient bear the brunt of these actions; and in the aftermath, they struggle to access the victory,” Abrams continued. “And boycotts are complicated affairs that require a long-term commitment to action.”