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Delta, Coca-Cola blast home state Georgia's voting restrictions as 'unacceptable'

Stock MarketsApr 01, 2021 09:55AM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. American Express Chairman and CEO Chenault gestures during the White House summit on cybersecurity and consumer protection in Palo Alto 2/2

By David Shepardson and Uday Sampath Kumar

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Coca-Cola Co and Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) on Wednesday joined a bid by U.S. companies to challenge the state of Georgia's new voting restrictions, with both Atlanta-based companies calling the law unacceptable.

Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:MSFT), , which in February announced a major new investment in Atlanta, Georgia's capital, added its voice, with President Brad Smith saying provisions of the law signed last week "unfairly restrict the rights of people to vote legally, securely, and safely."

Citi Chief Financial Officer Mark Mason said in a LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD) post he was "appalled by the recent voter suppression" passed in Georgia.

The Republican-backed Georgia law strengthened identification requirements for absentee ballots, shortened early voting periods for runoffs and made it a misdemeanor for members of the public to offer food and water to voters waiting in line.

Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp says the law is "another step to making our elections fair and secure."

But the measure has been slammed by Democratic President Joe Biden and faces legal challenges from civil rights groups that contend it is aimed at suppressing voting among Blacks and other racial minorities.

Black voters in Georgia were instrumental in state elections that helped Biden win the White House and Democrats gain narrow control of the U.S. Senate.

Republican lawmakers in other states are also pursuing voting restrictions, which they say are aimed at curbing fraud. Research has shown that voter fraud is exceedingly rare in the United States.

Dozens of Black executives, including Merck & Co Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Frazier, had earlier in the day called on their peers in U.S. companies to push back against wider restrictions on voting rights.

They issued their appeal after Delta and Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) had faced the threat of boycotts from activists who said they needed to do more to oppose the law.

Delta's criticism was a course reversal for the airline, which had praised the law in a statement on Friday even as it acknowledged having concerns.

Critics questioned why Delta and other companies did not speak out before Kemp signed the restrictions into law. None of the companies disclosed any concrete steps they might take in response to the law.

'COMPANIES NEED TO TAKE A STAND'

The campaign against the new Georgia law, led by Merck's Frazier and former American Express Co (NYSE:AXP) CEO Kenneth Chenault, urged companies to look past the appearance of partisanship and publicly stand against it and voting restrictions being pursued in other states.

"We're calling on corporate America to publicly oppose any discriminatory legislation and all measures designed to limit Americans' ability to vote," Chenault told Reuters.

"American companies need to take a stand."

A letter supporting the campaign by Frazier and Chenault was signed by 72 Black executives including former Xerox (N:XRX) CEO Ursula Burns, former Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C) Chairman Richard Parsons (NYSE:PSN) and Uber Technologies (NYSE:UBER) Inc Chief Legal Officer Tony West.

'A STEP BACKWARDS'

On Wednesday, Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey called the law "unacceptable - it is a step backwards." He told CNBC the law was "wrong and it needs to be remedied."

Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in a company memo on Wednesday: "The entire rationale for this bill was based on a lie: that there was widespread voter fraud in Georgia in the 2020 elections."

Bastian wrote: "The bill includes provisions that will make it harder for many underrepresented voters, particularly Black voters, to exercise their constitutional right to elect their representatives."

"The final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta's values," the memo said.

His memo, on the final day of the state legislative session, drew condemnation from Kemp.

The governor said the memo "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."

Frazier, who is stepping down as head of Merck in June, has been outspoken on social and political issues before.

He was the first CEO to leave Republican former President Donald Trump's American Manufacturing Council, saying he was taking a stand against intolerance and extremism, and called out racial inequities across U.S. society after the death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.

Late on Wednesday, Ford CEO Jim Farley said in a statement that "equitable access to voting rights for all people - including our colleagues and dealers in all 50 states - is sacred."

While not addressing the Georgia law, Farley said the U.S. automaker wanted lawmakers "to assure everyone who's entitled to vote is able to exercise that freedom."

Delta, Coca-Cola blast home state Georgia's voting restrictions as 'unacceptable'
 

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Comments (30)
Joon Kim
Joon Kim Apr 01, 2021 9:59PM ET
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America is going down the drain. Communist hiding as democratic socialists. Republicans are just as corrupt.
Notvery Goodathis
Peteymcletey Apr 01, 2021 12:01PM ET
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When Stacey Abraham's complained about voter fraud, it was worth exploring. Republicans etc ask about it, and boom - socialists threaten them
Notvery Goodathis
Peteymcletey Apr 01, 2021 12:00PM ET
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Communist companies now running our governments? Sounds great....
Kaveh Sun
Kaveh Sun Apr 01, 2021 10:58AM ET
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Highest turn out is this election at 66%. The rest dont care. If u care to v/o/t/e this wont stop u. The rest got to bri/be the with foods,money. That is f/r/a/ud.
Vlad Lozovskiy
Vlad Lozovskiy Apr 01, 2021 10:13AM ET
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Voter ID is only for absentee voters not for regular folks who come to vote. Leftists are mad because they will not be able to dump million of ballots. And yes, it has to be few places for that with observers, unlike last time, where fraud was just unbelievable. These changes make total sense.  And yes, last time they were gathering black voters because there was free food.  That must go too. Voting is responsibility and not about free food.
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Apr 01, 2021 10:13AM ET
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slow day at the russian bot farm today?
CrackHead Bob
CrackHead Bob Apr 01, 2021 10:13AM ET
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You seemed to have missed the memo, there was no Fraud. Because you hold incorrect view it seems your the last one to see you have been played by your people.
GJ DJT
GJDJT Apr 01, 2021 10:06AM ET
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if voter ID is requirement, then make it so free of charge.
Stew Preston
Stew Preston Mar 31, 2021 5:18PM ET
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Why is everyone talking about voter ID, did anyone read what’s in the the bill. It goes way past voter ID and restricts times people can drop off a absentee ballet, giving water to people in line, and the number of drop off points in a county. The state board also has more power over the county level in a peculiar way.
Benjamin McIntire
Benjamin McIntire Mar 31, 2021 5:18PM ET
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Because strawman arguements
Roger Miller
Roger Miller Mar 31, 2021 5:17PM ET
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Only allow property (land) owners to vote.  Traditionally they had the most interest in who is elected.  Overreaching government (the nanny state) in the form of social programs and regulations gave essentially everyone an interest in who got elected.
Stew Preston
Stew Preston Mar 31, 2021 5:17PM ET
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1890 called, they want the women’s vote back too.
Clinton Powell
Clinton Powell Mar 31, 2021 5:17PM ET
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If you dont have ID get out of publicReally?! Even George Floyd had a license WELL a recordJust the same
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Mar 31, 2021 5:17PM ET
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Only allow property (land) owners to vote.  -- so you can't vote if you only own an apartment?....................."gave essentially everyone an interest in who got elected."  -- and that's bad because???
President Xi Jinping
President Xi Jinping Mar 31, 2021 4:59PM ET
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Apparently republicans think it should be easier to get a gun than to vote
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Mar 31, 2021 4:59PM ET
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only for white people, for black people it should be equally hard
President Xi Jinping
President Xi Jinping Mar 31, 2021 4:57PM ET
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According to the governor every single other person who read the restrictions are wrong and he is right
Jozef Drozd
Jozef Drozd Mar 31, 2021 4:45PM ET
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How showing an ID makes it harder to vote ? What those kn uckle heads  are talking about ?
President Xi Jinping
President Xi Jinping Mar 31, 2021 4:45PM ET
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The requirement to get that ID is restrictive. They ask for data people cant get because it didnt exist for them when they were born or later.
danny Levine
danny Levine Mar 31, 2021 4:45PM ET
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that's exactly what reduces illegal votes.
Benjamin McIntire
Benjamin McIntire Mar 31, 2021 4:45PM ET
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Hurr durr didnt read it at all did you
Connecticut Yankee
A_Jaundiced_Eye Mar 31, 2021 4:08PM ET
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Foolish me: I thought that these were PRIVATE companies, owned by private citizens.  In which case, WHY AREN'T THE SHAREHOLDERS BEING ASKED TO DECIDE WHAT POSITION THE COMPANIES SHOULD TAKE ???????  WHERE'S MY PROXY !!!!!
John Raymond
John Raymond Mar 31, 2021 3:01PM ET
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vote in person with id is essential and of course voter id shud be required for absentee ballots. And yes there was election fraud. overwhelming evidence of that
Mark Manley
Mark Manley Mar 31, 2021 2:42PM ET
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The suggestion that voting loses in America restrict anyone's right to vote is untrue and complete leftist propaganda, I defy any of these pseudo-woke executives to review every voting statute in the country and prove that they remove voting rights from US citizens
Mark Manley
Mark Manley Mar 31, 2021 2:42PM ET
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*voting laws*
danny Levine
danny Levine Mar 31, 2021 2:31PM ET
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boycott Delta. American value is nothing to them compared to profits!
Vlad Lozovskiy
Vlad Lozovskiy Mar 31, 2021 2:30PM ET
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The irony here is that ID will be required only for absentee ballots.  SO the left is going wild they can't dump all these papers in anymore.
Terry Barker
Terry Barker Mar 31, 2021 1:13PM ET
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Someone needs to start a website to help disadvantaged people get photo IDs
William Lindsey
William Lindsey Mar 31, 2021 11:57AM ET
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Go to the back of the line.
Eudon Hickey
Eudon Hickey Mar 31, 2021 8:42AM ET
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I am from Africa and i like to vote in the USA as well. Send me a ballot
danny Levine
danny Levine Mar 31, 2021 8:42AM ET
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count me in, I'm from North Korea!
Adam Scobby
Adam Scobby Mar 31, 2021 8:31AM ET
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You are too lazy to get an ID that you need to do almost everything, but you aren't too lazy to vote? Doesn't add up if you ask me.
Christopher Cross
Christopher Cross Mar 31, 2021 8:28AM ET
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You have to have an ID to drive, buy guns, apply for jobs, travel, buy a home or car, and even check into a hotel! What the hell is the problem with needing one to vote?
Scott Bailey
Scott Bailey Mar 31, 2021 8:28AM ET
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Need an ID to get food stamps!
Chris Cummins
Chris Cummins Mar 31, 2021 8:28AM ET
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Scott Bailey  Native Americans have no need for an ID, but they do need to vote. Why don't we address known issues instead of making up issues (i.e. voter fraud). How can we make it easier for Native Americans to vote....working on things like that is how you make America great again!
Notvery Goodathis
Peteymcletey Mar 31, 2021 8:22AM ET
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Coca-cola is the closest thing to the kkk corporate America has. Never forget. they and the democrats created and supported the kkk to go after black people and Republicans.history doomed to repeat itself, but in different forms.
Chris Cummins
Chris Cummins Mar 31, 2021 8:22AM ET
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Your version of history is interesting...and incorrect. But thanks for the disinformation.
Notvery Goodathis
Peteymcletey Mar 31, 2021 8:21AM ET
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By saying this makes it harder for black people to vote - they are admitting that they are the true racists.
John Booth
John Booth Mar 31, 2021 8:18AM ET
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well coke and delta are off my list of companies to use. voter ID works
John Lakran
John Lakran Mar 31, 2021 8:08AM ET
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yawn
 
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