Iconic brands that slammed Georgia election law have egg on face amid state's record voter turnout
Coca-Cola, Major League Baseball among household name brands that joined in public denunciation of the voting reform measure.
Georgia's high voter turnout in the 2022 midterm elections, coupled with a favorable recent court ruling, have vindicated the state's Election Integrity Act, which last year was harshly denounced as a tool of voter supression by President Biden and an array of iconic American brands from Coca-Cola to Major Legue Baseball.
After the passage of Georgia S.B. 202 last year, MLB announced it was moving its All-Star Game out of Atlanta, citing Biden's claim that the law would "restrict voting access for residents of the state," according to a statement by the league at the time. The game was moved to Denver.
Saying the decision was "the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport," MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred declared, "Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box."
Biden blasted the law as an "atrocity," likening it to "Jim Crow in the 21st century."
The law includes popular election integrity safeguards like, for example, signature matching, voter ID, restrictions on drop boxes, a ban on the mass mailing of absentee ballot request forms to those who did not ask for them, and mandatory citizenship checks.
In addition to MLB, corporations such as Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines publicly decried the law despite its broad support among Georgia voters.
The law "is unacceptable and does not match Delta's values," said Delta CEO Ed Bastian, who sent a memo to employees calling it a Republican attempt to "make it harder for many underrepresented voters" to "exercise their constitutional right to elect their representatives."
Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey told CNBC at the time that Georgia's new law is "unacceptable" and "a step backwards."
Since then, however, the law has survived a challenge in federal court.
In September this year, Obama-appointed U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones ruled in a 288-page decision that the law is constitutional and the election integrity measures were not racially unfair or designed to suppress minority voters.
Democratic Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams' voter advocacy group Fair Fight Inc. had challenged the law in a suit against Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Following her legal defeat, Abrams tweeted that it represented a "hard-won victory."
Georgia set an all-time midterm early voting turnout record this year, after the law's enactment. The total turnout of early voters — both in-person and absentee — was 2,504,956. There were 2,288,889 total early in-person voters this year, compared to 1,890,364 early in-person voters in the 2018 midterm elections.
"It does not mean voter suppression doesn't exist," Abrams said amid the record early voter turnout in October. "But we're stronger, better, and faster than it."
Raffensperger told MSNBC's Joe Scarborough on Wednesday that the state's midterm elections ran smoothly and had a great turnout.
After mentioning the earlier criticism of the law, Scarborough said, "and yet, you look at the numbers this past week, pretty remarkable."
"Well, we had a record — we have just a record turnout," Raffensperger said. "It was bigger than what we had in 2018. We had short lines. Our average wait time in lines was about two minutes in the afternoon. Tracking at three minutes. Longest on the leader board 14 minutes. Check-in time, when you got to the front line, 47 seconds. It was just a very smooth process.
"We worked hard with the counties to keep those lines short. Make sure everyone had the opportunity to vote. In Georgia, you can vote no-excuse absentee voting, 17 days of early voting and then Election Day. So we gave voters a choice, and they responded. We had a very calm, smooth, well-attended, you know, good turnout election."
MLB, Delta, and Coca-Cola didn't immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday evening.