Corporate critics of Georgia election law incorporated in Delaware, which has strict voting rules

State requires excuses for absentee voting, makes voters request absentee application.

Updated: April 14, 2021 - 10:24am

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Numerous major corporate critics of Georgia's new election reform law are themselves incorporated in the business-friendly state of Delaware, which has several election provisions similar to, or even stricter than, those in dispute in the Peach State. 

Corporations such as Coca-Cola, Google, Cisco and Delta Airlines have criticized Georgia's voting law as oppressive and discriminatory, arguing that the law's rules—which include photo identification requirements and new absentee voting restrictions—are an attempt to stifle the vote in the southern state. 

Both Coke and Delta are headquartered in Georgia, yet they and several of the state's other critics are legally incorporated in Delaware — a common business arrangement for American corporations due to the state's favorable regulatory climate. 

And while those businesses have been sharply critical of the new Georgia law, Delaware itself has several rules on the books that are similar to, or in some cases more restrictive than, some of the most-criticized elements of the Georgia law. 

Among them is Delaware's requirement that voters provide an excuse for voting absentee. "No-excuse" absentee voting is widely championed by progressive activists as a key provision of establishing a system of permanent, mass voting by mail.  

Though the Georgia legislature enacted some new regulations governing absentee voting in that state, lawmakers there preserved "no-excuse" absentee voting. The Georgia code stipulates that voters who ask for an absentee ballot "shall not be required to provide a reason" in order to do so. Delaware, meanwhile, requires voters to choose at least one of six reasons for being unable to vote in person, including illness, vacation and religious beliefs.

The state last year did pass a temporary provision allowing no-excuse mail-in voting during the 2020 election, but that rule was in force only into early 2021. State legislators are currently attempting to make no-excuse voting permanent, though Delaware codifies its absentee ballot rules in its state constitution, meaning the legislature will have to overcome the notable hurdle of amending the state's core legal framework before they can even begin to alter state voting statutes. 

Georgia has also been slammed for its tweaking of early voting days in the state, in which certain days are designated for residents to cast an early ballot. The New York Times noted that the rule expanded early voting "in a lot of small counties" (though "probably not in more populous ones," the paper reported). 

Delaware, meanwhile, has no early voting system to speak of, though the legislature recently put one in place that will go into effect in 2022. 

Georgia legislators have additionally faced heat for codifying into law that state officials may not send out absentee ballot applications to any state resident absent a specific request from the resident in question. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in March 2020 had mailed absentee request forms to every Georgia voter in an effort to drive up absentee voting and stem the spread of SARS-Cov-2. 

Yet, like Georgia, Delaware itself requires state residents to request absentee ballots, which may be done via either the state's website or local election offices. As with the emergency no-excuse voting provisions last year, Delaware in 2020 did send ballot request applications out to every voter ahead of the most recent presidential election whether they requested one or not. But normal state law requires that residents specifically request them. 

Google, Coca-Cola, Delta and Cisco did not respond to requests for comment regarding their corporate positions on Delaware's voting laws, including whether or not they have spoken up against them and whether they will be taking any action in response to those rules. 

Major League Baseball announced earlier this month that it would move its 2021 All-Star baseball game out of Atlanta in protest over the Georgia election reform. MLB is moving the game this year to Colorado, a state with notably progressive voting laws, among them a universal mail-in voting system.