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Georgia continues to draw criticism over new voting law

Published: Apr. 1, 2021 at 9:03 AM EDT
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ATLANTA - In Georgia, three lawsuits are now challenging the state’s new voting law, and a leader in a predominantly Black church announced a boycott of Georgia-based companies that he says haven’t done enough to stop it.

Media mogul Tyler Perry is among the latest to speak out. Perry says the new law is “unconstitutional.”

Some of Georgia’s most prominent corporate leaders are beginning to more forcefully criticize the state’s sweeping new election law.

They’re acknowledging the concerns of civil rights activists and Black business executives who say the law targets non-white voters and threatens the democratic process.

Two big Atlanta-based companies -- Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola -- are also speaking out against the legislation. The chief executives have now called the law “unacceptable.” Their criticism is opening an unusual rift with Republican leaders.

“Delta’s statement finally tells the truth — even if it’s late,” said Nsé Ufot of the New Georgia Project, which has launched an ad campaign targeting major corporations.

After Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed the new law last week, Delta issued a statement promoting parts of the law such as expanded weekend voting, but said “we understand concerns remain over other provisions ... and there continues to be work ahead in this important effort.”

Chief Executive Ed Bastian was more blunt in a memo sent Wednesday to employees.

“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 wrote, alluding to former President Donald Trump’s false claims that he lost because of fraud. “Unfortunately, that excuse is being used in states across the nation that are attempting to pass similar legislation to restrict voting rights.”

The Major League Baseball Players Association also has raised the idea of moving the summer All-Star Game from the Atlanta Braves’ home stadium.

Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger are defending the voting law.

The governor appeared Wednesday on Fox News, saying many of the attacks on the measure are focused on politics.

Georgia African Methodist Episcopal Bishop Reginald Jackson and faith-based leaders from across the state will held a news conference at noon in Atlanta outside of Atlanta’s World of Coke Museum to show their opposition to the law.

Jackson announced a boycott against Georgia-based companies Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines and Home Depot that could may expand to include UPS, Aflac, Georgia Power and UBS.

“These corporations did not speak out publicly or take a public position on SB 202 before it passed,” Jackson said. “In fact, Delta Air Lines wrote an in-house memo that praised SB 202 claiming that it was considerably improved.”

Jackson said the chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola said in June of last year that “our company can do better, we must stand as allies with Black lives matter and other social justice causes.”

“Well, when it had a chance to publicly stand with Black and brown people, it did not,” he said. “Home Depot has said nothing. Black and Brown people all across this country and around the world pay billions of dollars for their products and fill their coffers. Well we cannot and will not support the companies who do not support us in our struggle to cast our ballots and exercise our freedom. And we cannot support companies who support or remain silent about legislation that is based on a lie, seeks to suppress our vote, is racist and seeks to turn back time to Jim Crow.”

He said the companies must:

  • Publicly announce their opposition to SB 202 and seek to have the legislation reconsidered.
  • Speak out against legislation proposed in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Texas and other states “with the intent to suppress the votes of Black and brown voters.”
  • Publicly express these companies support of HR 1 (For the People Act) and HR 4, (Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019) federal legislation that blocks much of what has passed in Georgia and is included in state legislation.
  • Support litigation against SB 202 seeking to have legislation ruled unconstitutional.

Georgia state Rep. Park Cannon spoke out Thursday for the first time after being arrested at the Capitol a week earlier.

She was knocking on the governor’s door while he was signing the new voting bill into law.

Cannon was charged with disrupting a General Assembly.

On Thursday, she spoke out about those charges and the public response by Georgia businesses.

“I am facing eight years in prison on unfounded charges,” she said.

She called the legislation “a law with such nefarious qualities that several of Georgia’s Fortune 500 companies have began knocking on the door, too.”

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