Opinion: Speaking out for voting access in Ga.

Georgia’s State Capitol.
Georgia’s State Capitol.

Editor’s note: The following was originally posted on Delta Air Lines’ web site.

Just two weeks ago, we honored civil rights icon Ambassador Andrew Young by naming a building on our campus in his honor and establishing a permanent exhibit to his lifelong work in the lobby. The building was chosen because it is the first place most new Delta employees visit when they come to work for us, and we wanted them to see, on their first day, just how closely our mission of connecting the world intertwines with the work of heroes like Ambassador Young, a former Delta board member whose steady hand helped save our airline in the dark years following 9/11.

For all the pride we take in the achievements of Ambassador Young and other civil rights heroes – many of them from our hometown of Atlanta – we know that much work remains to be done to truly establish a just and equitable society. Last week, the Georgia legislature passed a sweeping voting reform act that could make it harder for many Georgians, particularly those in our Black and Brown communities, to exercise their right to vote.

Ed Bastian, ajc photo
Ed Bastian, ajc photo

Credit: HANDOUT

Credit: HANDOUT

Since the bill’s inception, Delta joined other major Atlanta corporations to work closely with elected officials from both parties, to try and remove some of the most egregious measures from the bill. We had some success in eliminating the most suppressive tactics that some had proposed.

However, I need to make it crystal clear that the final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values.

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.

After having time to now fully understand all that is in the bill, coupled with discussions with leaders and employees in the Black community, 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.

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.

So there is much work ahead, and many more opportunities to have an impact. I want the entire Delta family to know that we stand together in our commitment to protect and facilitate your precious right to vote. That’s why we invested heavily in our get-out-the-vote efforts last year, and we can all be proud of Delta’s contribution to the historic voter turnout in 2020.

In the weeks and months ahead, we will be working with leaders across the political spectrum in states nationwide in this effort. We’re also closely monitoring legislation in Congress – named after the late Atlanta civil rights hero and Delta friend John Lewis – that will expand voting rights nationwide and working with the U.S. representatives and senators that represent our communities.

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.

Thank you for all you do for your communities, your loved ones, and for our Delta family, every day.

Ed Bastian is CEO of Delta Air Lines.

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