Delta CEO: New Georgia voting bill 'based on a lie'

An Airbus A321 from the Delta fleet. (Delta Air Lines file photo)

Delta's Air Line's CEO has spoken out against Georgia's new Republican-backed election law, saying that it does not match the company's values.

In a memo Wednesday, CEO Ed Bastian said that he needed "to make it crystal clear that the final bill is unacceptable."

"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," Bastian said.

According to the CEO of the Georgia-based company, Delta had been working with elected officials to try and remove measures from the bill they considered "egregious" and were successfully able to remove the "most suppressive" tactics proposed.

MORE: Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank responds to Georgia's election reforms

However, after the bill passed and speaking with Black community leaders and Delta employees, Bastian said they have determined that the bill will make it harder for voters, particularly Black voters, to exercise their rights.

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

The new election law was signed Thursday by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, just hours after it cleared the state legislature. It is part of a tide of GOP-sponsored election bills introduced in states across the country after former President Donald Trump made false claims about election fraud.

The Georgia law adds a photo ID requirement for voting absentee by mail, cuts the amount of time people have to request an absentee ballot and limits where drop boxes can be placed and when they can be accessed. It also bans people from handing out food or water to voters waiting in line and allows the Republican-controlled State Election Board to remove and replace county election officials.

SEE MORE: Georgia Secretary of State calls many election changes 'solid'

Republicans in Georgia argue that the law is needed to restore voters’ confidence.

"Georgia’s Election Integrity Act that I signed into law expands early voting and secures our vote-by-mail system to protect the integrity of our elections," Kemp said in a recent tweet. "The Peach State is leading the nation in making it easy to vote and hard to cheat."

Critics of the law called on Monday to boycott some of the state’s largest businesses, including Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola, for not speaking out more forcefully against the law.

"If we cannot persuade them or if they refuse to oppose this legislation then we will organize and implement a boycott of their companies," Bishop Reginald Jackson wrote in a letter to more than 90,000 parishioners. Jackson presides over more than 400 African Methodist Episcopal churches in Georgia.

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SEE ALSO: Civil rights groups file new lawsuit over Georgia voting law

Coca-Cola said in a statement that the company has been engaged in "advocating for positive change in voting legislation."

Delta had previously issued a statement touting some parts of the law, such as expanded weekend voting, but said "we understand concerns remain over other provisions in the legislation and there continues to be work ahead in this important effort."

Bastian said that Delta would be working with leaders on both sides of the political aisle nationwide to ensure citizens have the right to vote as well as monitoring the John Lewis Voting Rights Act that is currently in Congress.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.