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3 major businesses make it ‘crystal clear’ they’re unhappy about Georgia’s new voting law

Delta and Coca-Cola, both headquartered in Atlanta, and Major League Baseball have rebuked the legislation to tighten voting regulations

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp speaks during a news conference at the State Capitol on Saturday, April 3, 2021, in Atlanta, about Major League Baseball’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta over the league’s objection to a new Georgia voting law.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp speaks during a news conference at the State Capitol on Saturday, April 3, 2021, in Atlanta, about Major League Baseball’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta over the league’s objection to a new Georgia voting law.
Brynn Anderson, Associated Press

There could be economic consequences for Georgia as businesses have begun to speak out against state lawmakers for passing legislation, which critics say, disproportionately affects voters of color.

Delta Air Lines and The Coca-Cola Co. — both headquartered in Atlanta — were joined by Major League Baseball in their rebukes of the legislation that tightened voting regulations. The businesses were critical of the new law, saying they are “disappointed” and that provisions of the bill are “wrong” for disenfranchising underrepresented Americans.

Several businesses said the law goes against their “values.”

The state’s election overhaul — led by Republicans who have a majority in the state House and Senate — comes just months after Georgians elected a pair of Democrats to the U.S. Senate and supported President Joe Biden’s election to the Oval Office.

What businesses are saying

Delta and Coca-Cola said they’d tried to work with state politicians from both parties as the bill was being negotiated and were opposed to the law’s final version. Both CEOs said their companies would work with federal lawmakers to ensure voting rights were protected nationally.

  • “I need to make it crystal clear that the final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values,” Delta CEO Ed Bastion said in a statement Wednesday. “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.”
  • “It’s evident that 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. That is wrong,” Bastion added.
  • “We want to be crystal clear and state unambiguously that we are disappointed in the outcome of the Georgia voting legislation,” Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO James Quincy said in a statement Thursday.

Major League Baseball announced Friday that not only was it moving the 2021 All-Star Game out of Atlanta, but that this year’s draft would also be relocated out of Georgia as a consequence of the voting law.

  • “Over the last week, we have engaged in thoughtful conversations with clubs, former and current players, the Players Association, and The Players Alliance, among others, to listen to their views. I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star Game and MLB Draft,” MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred Jr. said in a statement Friday.
  • “Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” the commissioner said.

And on the evening the bill was passed and signed into law, movie director James Mangold — of films “Logan” and “Ford v. Ferrari” — said on Twitter that he “will not direct a film in Georgia.”

Politicians react

In an interview Saturday on Fox News, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp blamed “cancel culture” and “lying” Democrats — naming President Joe Biden and Stacey Abrams specifically — as why businesses were expressing their disapproval with the new voting law.

  • “It’s really a sad day for Major League Baseball,” Kemp said, according to Fox News. “It’s terrible for the fans. It’s terrible for the small-business owners in the metro Atlanta community and our state that was looking forward to hosting this game and had put a lot of resources into it. All because of a big lie.”

Other Republicans called for the MLB’s federal antitrust exemption to be stripped, according to Mother Jones.

Abrams — a former gubernatorial candidate who’s been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her years of effort to increase the turnout of Black voters in Georgia — has said Republicans knew there would be economic consequences and that they “prioritized making it harder for people of color to vote over the economic well-being of all Georgians.”

  • “Like many Georgians, I am disappointed that the MLB is relocating the All-Star game; however I commend the players, owners and League commissioner for speaking out,” Abrams said in a statement posted to Twitter.

Georgia Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, both Democrats, said in separate statements that Republican lawmakers were responsible for MLB’s decisions to cancel both events in the state and for the economic consequences of those decisions.

  • “It is not the people of Georgia or the workers of Georgia who crafted this law, it is politicians seeking to retain power at the expense of Georgians’ voices. And today’s decision by MLB is the unfortunate consequence of these politicians’ actions,” Warnock said in a statement Friday.
  • “It is my hope that businesses, athletes, and entertainers can protest this law not by leaving Georgia but by coming here and fighting voter suppression head on, and hand-in-hand with the community,” he added.
  • “The Governor and the legislature are deliberately making it harder for Black voters to vote. They know it. Everybody knows it and this egregious and immoral assault on voting rights has also put our state’s economy at grave risk,” said Ossoff in a Friday statement.