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Efforts Mount To Overturn Georgia's Controversial Voting Law

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

How far should private companies go if they disapprove of a voting law in Georgia? Some big national brands based in Georgia have already questioned that new law. Now Coke and Delta face boycotts for not doing more, as does the Home Depot. Major League Baseball has already said it will move this year's All-Star Game out of Atlanta. Prominent Black church and community leaders criticized a series of measures that Georgia Republicans passed after their side lost the 2020 election.

Under fierce criticism, Republicans modified a plan to eliminate Sunday voting, which is commonly used by Black voters. But the law still does reduce early voting in urban areas and bans giving water to people standing in line to vote. It also strips much power from Brad Raffensperger, the Republican official who last year resisted efforts to overturn a Democratic election. Emil Moffatt begins our coverage. He's with our member station WABE.

Good morning.

EMIL MOFFATT, BYLINE: Hi, Steve. Good morning.

INSKEEP: Before we talk about this boycott, I do want to note that Delta has already said that the new laws are unacceptable from Delta's point of view. Coca-Cola said it was disappointed with the legislation. What more are the companies expected to do?

MOFFATT: Yeah, they want these companies to support the lawsuits against these laws, to hold press conferences to denounce these and similar proposed voting laws across the country. And they want the companies to use their national clout, their national influence to push for voting rights protection at the federal level. Here's Bishop Reginald Jackson with the Georgia AME Church.

REGINALD JACKSON: We need them to speak out against any effort to suppress votes, any effort that is racist and any effort to turn back time.

MOFFATT: And Bishop Jackson says he continues to meet with these corporate leaders hoping to stave off the boycott, but he still wants commitments from them.

INSKEEP: I just - I guess we should just remember that these voting law changes grow out of a lie - the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen. This is something that Governor Brian Kemp knows is untrue. He actually defended the legal results during the 2020 election but now signed this law and supports the law. How is he defending his course?

MOFFATT: Yeah, he says the laws need updating regardless of whatever may or may not have happened during the 2020 elections, especially, he says, after so much change because the pandemic. But Kemp went on to accuse Major League Baseball of basically just taking its cues from prominent Democrats. He said what baseball is doing is a continuation of what he calls cancel culture that targets conservatives.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BRIAN KEMP: What sport are they going after now? What event are they going to go after? What convention? What are they going to do if the Braves make the playoffs? Are they going to move the damn playoff game?

MOFFATT: And Kemp claims the new laws actually expand access to voting and make elections more secure. We should note that some of the measures do expand voting opportunities, but that's mainly in smaller counties. In large areas like metro Atlanta, the laws either keep the status quo or reduce access. And already several lawsuits have been filed against these new laws. Georgia's Republican attorney general, Chris Carr, will have to defend the state.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHRIS CARR: Anybody who actually reads this bill quickly sees that it strengthens security, expands access and improves transparency in Georgia's elections.

MOFFATT: And Carr, like Kemp, accused President Biden and Stacey Abrams of using misinformation to pressure companies against this bill.

INSKEEP: Emil, thanks so much, really appreciate your reporting.

MOFFATT: You're welcome.

INSKEEP: Emil Moffatt with member station WABE in Atlanta. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.