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CEOs condemn Georgia voter ID law, while their own companies require valid photo ID

Delta, Coca Cola, Major League Baseball line up behind Democratic Party in pitched partisan battle over voter ID, election integrity.

Updated: April 6, 2021 - 10:48am

Leaders of major corporations have come out swinging against a Georgia election reform law with an ID requirement for absentee ballots — even though those same companies require valid photo ID to access the services their companies provide.

After Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp on March 25 signed into law the bill passed by the state's Republican legislature, heads of corporations headquartered in the Peach State – including the leaders of Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola — came out against the law, which is fervently opposed by national and state Democratic leaders.

Democratic messaging against the law centers around the allegedly racially discriminatory implications of requiring valid voter ID in order to vote by mail. President Joe Biden blasted the law as an "atrocity," likening it to "Jim Crow in the 21st century." Seventy-two black executives, meanwhile, signed an open letter calling on their corporate brethren to stand up to the Georgia voting law's "un-American" "assault" on the "fundamental tenets of our democracy." 

But in an echo of the politicians who got caught flouting their own COVID-19 mitigation restrictions, several of the same corporate giants embracing the Democrats' heated partisan rhetoric alleging "voter suppression" themselves require ID to access their services.

On March 11, Ed Bastian, the CEO of Delta Airlines, dedicated a building at the company's Atlanta headquarters to Andrew Young, the former Democratic mayor of the city, Carter administration U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and civil rights leader. At the dedication ceremony, Young addressed the election reform bill then making its way through the Georgia State House and Senate, and Young's daughter Andrea approached Bastian to emphasize "how important it was to oppose this law," she said.

Last week, after being lobbied by former CEO of American Express Kenneth Chenault, one of the signers of the open letter, Bastian sent a memo to Delta employees alleging that the GOP voting law is a Republican attempt to "make it harder for many underrepresented voters" to "exercise their constitutional right to elect their representatives."

But if you want to hop a Delta flight to Atlanta — or anywhere else — you will need to show unexpired, government-issued ID to board any of the carrier's flights.

Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey told CNBC last week that Georgia's new law is "unacceptable" and "a step backwards."

However, Coca-Cola required a valid photo ID for admission to its annual shareholders meeting last year. "We will verify your registration and request to see your admission ticket and a valid form of photo identification, such as a driver's license or passport," said the company in reference to its early 2020 annual meeting of the shareholders.

Several other companies, including JPMorgan Chase, have publicly condemned Georgia's voting law and committed to help fight it, without offering much in the way of specifics. Major League Baseball, however, went a step further, announcing Friday that it will relocate the league's 2021 All-Star Game, originally scheduled to be played in Atlanta, to another location to be determined. Commissioner Rob Manfred said the league's decision was the "best way to demonstrate our values as a sport."

But if you want to take in a Major League Baseball game now that many ballparks are once again readmitting fans on a limited basis, you will need a picture ID to pick up tickets from an MLB will call office.

Even Arlington National Cemetery requires valid photo ID for those aged 16 and older who wish to visit the graves of the war heroes buried there. 

UPS, another company headquartered in Georgia that is currently facing tremendous pressure to condemn the bill, requires valid photo ID when entering a UPS Access Point.

The question now for the corporations picking sides in the bitter, high-stakes, partisan warfare over election rules is whether those who support voter ID laws (about 70% percent) or are aligned with the political party these corporations have picked a fight with, will vote with their feet and walk away from the companies that are walking away from them. 

"It's stunning," former Cincinnati Mayor Ken Blackwell recently told John Solomon, that "these companies like Coca-Cola and Delta have become so woke that they now take public stances condemning some of their own customers, and presumably some of their own shareholders in Georgia."

The MLB is going to move "the All Star game to a state that probably has ... more restrictive laws than Georgia," he said. 

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