Delta Air Lines has again defended a controversial new voting law in the U.S. state of Georgia, arguing it helped to temper a bill that was bound to pass with or without Delta’s support.
Why Is The Georgia “Election Integrity Act of 2021” So Controversial?
Last week, Georgia lawmakers passed a new 98-page voting law which:
- Prohibits approaching voters in line at polling stations and giving them food or water
- Allows for unlimited challenges to a voter’s registration
- Requires voters to provide a copy of their state ID or driver’s license number or a photocopy of their identification in order to vote absentee
- Protects a voter’s right to request an absentee ballot without providing justification
- Expands early in-person voting to include an additional Saturday vote
- Allows local election officials to begin counting votes as they come in rather than waiting until election day
- Prohibits portable polling sites (such as mobile voting buses), except in the case of emergencies
- Requires precincts which have lines longer than an hour to add more voting machines to reduce wait time
- Strips the Secretary of State from role as Chair of State Election Board
- Authorizes the state legislature to fill 3/5 seats on the board
- The State Election Board will have the authority to suspend or replace local officials who “delay certification” of an election
- Prohibits the Secretary of State from sending unsolicited absentee ballot applications
The law was praised by Republicans, attacked by Democrats, and even called “Jim Crow in the 21st Century” by President Joe Biden.
Why Delta Has Said About The New Law
While Delta expressed its belief that “full and equal access to voting is a fundamental right for all citizens,” it added last Friday:
“The legislation signed this week improved considerably during the legislative process, and expands weekend voting, codifies Sunday voting and protects a voter’s ability to cast an absentee ballot without providing a reason.”
Delta took immense criticism for seemingly supporting the new law, with a campaign to boycott the Atlanta-based carriers trending on Twitter under the hashtag #BoycottDelta.
But despite the pushback, Delta has dug deeper in its support for the bill, with CEO Ed Bastian explaining that Delta really had no other choice.
In a video to employees yesterday, Bastian said:
“I know that many of you are disappointed, frustrated, and angry that we did not take a stronger public stand against specific measures in this bill. Unfortunately, the reality is that would have made it much harder to shape the legislation at all, and we would have lost a seat at the table.”
Bastian raises the difficult ethical dilemma of compromise. Does compromise indicate an abdication of the moral high ground or does it instead recognize that compromise is what holds communities and states…and indeed nations…together?
Bastian further claimed Delta worked to remove “many of the worst elements” of the bill and further noted:
“There are still many elements of the bill that are troubling. And there continues to be work ahead in this important effort.”
Finally, Bastian told employees that the impetus for the new law came from allegations of voter fraud during the 2020 presidential election that “we know never existed.”
Why Is Delta Even Involved In This?
I think Gary from View from the Wing asks the right in question, in wondering:
What is a government-subsidized airline, now part-owned by the federal government…doing tinkering with laws about how people can vote and when? If they can influence the outcome of elections, of course, they can better position themselves for further largesse.
He makes a reasonable point. It’s a bit ironic, though, that had these restrictions been in place the Senate may have remained Republican controlled and Delta would not be looking at a third round of taxpayer bailouts…
Frankly, the compromise issue is a tough one. Humans desire to be on the “right side of history” and support liberty and justice (at least how they subjectively define it). But can we fairly judge issues so starkly as black vs. white, good vs. evil, in such a complicated world? Can the new law really be reduced to simply “bad” or “good” depending upon your political outlook?
Facing strong pushback for its tepid but clear support for the new Georgia voting law, Delta has dug deeper and defended its position. Will this pacify calls to boycott Delta or only intensify them? We will soon find out.