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Delta CEO says new Georgia election law is 'based on a lie,' calls final bill 'unacceptable'

He made the comments in a memo to employees on Wednesday.

ATLANTA — Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian blasted the state's new election laws signed last week by Gov. Brian Kemp in a memo to its employees on Wednesday.

He said the airline joined other businesses in the state, working closely with elected officials from both parties, to try and remove "some of the most egregious measures."

"However, I need to make it crystal clear that the final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values," Bastian wrote in the memo. "The right to vote is sacred. It is fundamental to our democracy and those rights not only need to be protected, but easily facilitated in a safe and secure manner."

RELATED: Georgia companies respond to new voting law signed by Gov. Kemp as calls for boycotts increase

Credit: Delta Air Lilnes
Delta CEO Ed Bastian

He said that after taking the time to fully understand the bill and speak with leaders and employees in the Black community, it's was evident that the bill is making it harder for people to vote. 

"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. Unfortunately, that excuse is being used in states across the nation that are attempting to pass similar legislation to restrict voting rights," he wrote.

Gov. Brian Kemp, told 11Alive in an interview Wednesday, that the law does not disenfranchising anyone. He also claimed that Delta's position on the bill changed.

"I’m very disappointed, in that, we’ve been working with Delta the whole time on this election bill, " Kemp said. "None of his team raised any concerns about the things we passed in this bill, like making sure that we extended opportunities for people to vote on the weekend, replace the signature match with the voter ID requirement that we’ve had in Georgia since the mid-2000s, make sure election officials continuously count until every vote is counted."

RELATED: Georgia's new controversial election law debated: 'Jim Crow 2.0' or voting integrity measurements?

Bastain said in his memo he would continue to work with leaders and elected officials and closely monitor legislation in Congress that will expand voting rights nationwide. 

"I know this result in Georgia has caused frustration, anger and pain for many members of our Delta family. I commit to you that as we move forward, Delta will continue to do everything in our power to hear and protect your voice and your rights, both in Georgia and nationwide."

The 95-page law:

  • Requires an ID number, like a driver’s license, to apply for an absentee ballot
  • Cuts off absentee ballot applications 11 days before an election
  • Limits the number of absentee ballot drop boxes
  • Allows the state to take control of what it calls “underperforming” local election systems
  • Disallows volunteers from giving away food and drink to voters waiting in lines

Republicans said state election law was overdue to get an overhaul, irrespective of the 2020 election, which saw significant losses for the party. 

Kemp said there is a lot of misinformation out about the law.

"The good thing is, the truth is on our side that this bill continues to allow for secure accessible fair election in Georgia by adding days and weekend voting, absentee ballots by mail, requiring county officials to continuously count, so we don’t have breaks and we can do timely recording, and securing drop boxes - making sure that every county has one."

RELATED: Biden calls GA election law a 'blatant attack on the Constitution' and 'Jim Crow in the 21st Century;' Kemp responds

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