Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-Ga, responded to comments made by Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian who cited Georgia’s new election law as "unacceptable," "wrong" and "based on a lie.”
In an open letter to Bastian, Ferguson said the CEO’s comments on the election reform law were "shockingly inaccurate and irresponsible."
"To be clear," Ferguson said. "The Georgia bill will not make it harder to gain access to the polls, despite your claims to the contrary.”
Opponents say the legislation, and similar measures being considered in other states , amount to voter suppression efforts that will reduce minority voting. President Joe Biden has called the bill "Jim Crow in the 21st Century" and "an atrocity."
In his letter, Ferguson addressed issues including absentee voting, voter ID requirements, drop boxes and drinking water.
"People with hidden agendas suggesting these reforms are targeted to suppress the votes of African Americans so Republicans can win elections do so incorrectly and irresponsibly,” Ferguson said.
"Voters will be able to vote by absentee ballot with no excuse, unlike in New York, where Delta has invested billions of dollars in airport infrastructure upgrades,” Ferguson continued. “Voter ID requirements — supported by 74 percent of Georgia voters, including 63 percent of Black voters — simply call for either a driver’s license or free state ID number.”
Ferguson noted that larger precincts will be required to add voting machines and election personnel to shorten voting lines, and early voting days are increased to include two mandatory Saturdays instead of one, with the option of two Sundays for all localities, "unlike Delaware where there are zero mandated days of early voting.”
"Drop boxes, never utilized before the pandemic, are preserved and will be available in every county at early voting sites to ensure the integrity of the process,” he said. "Drinking water is not banned in voter lines as has been reported; it just can’t be distributed at the polls by groups advocating for votes.”
Citing a 2019 paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research, Ferguson reported strict ID laws have no significant negative effect on registration or turnout, overall or for any subgroup.
"This suggestion also wrongly and stereotypically assumes that all African Americans are Democrats. Since Republicans have gained higher numbers of African American voters, suppressing these votes should not and cannot be assumed to benefit only Republicans,” he said. "Republicans want to protect and restore the rights of all of our citizens to vote. Such efforts are quite the opposite of suppressing the votes of political opponents.”
Ferguson requested Bastian compose a written detailed list of issues with the new election laws.
"Without question, free and fair elections are the foundation of our democracy, and the security of our electoral system is vital to preserving its integrity,” Ferguson said. "Establishing trust with your customers, employees and our constituents starts with telling the entire truth in an open and transparent manner.
"To this point, you have not been truthful, and it’s time to change…”
Wednesday, Gov. Brian Kemp issued his own statement accusing Bastian of spreading misinformation and not recognizing the positives for voting included in the bill.
"Today's statement by Delta CEO Ed Bastian stands in stark contrast to our conversations with the company, ignores the content of the new law, and unfortunately continues to spread the same false attacks being repeated by partisan activists," said Kemp's statement.