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How A Boycott Of Coporations Could Lead To Greater Voting Access In Georgia

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Khadijah Abdur-Rahman joins us next. She is a Democratic commissioner in Fulton County, Ga., which includes Atlanta, and she supports the national boycott of Coca Cola, Delta, Home Depot - among others. Good morning.

KHADIJAH ABDUR-RAHMAN: Good morning. Good morning.

INSKEEP: Can I just ask first - we just heard from Emil that this law actually will expand the amount of voting that is available in some counties, some of the smaller counties, but reduces the amount of voting that's available, the access, in some of the bigger urban counties, like Fulton County. How is Fulton County - how are Fulton County voters truly affected by this?

ABDUR-RAHMAN: The Fulton County voters are affected, one, the boxes, the ballot boxes that we use, that we had 24-hour access earlier are only going to be open during bankers' hours. So to have a ballot box that's only open during bankers' hours that's inside of a building definitely decreases our access to the ballot box.

So it's several ways, but the most egregious way is the takeover. If they don't like the outcome here in Fulton County - we've got a million residents that would be hurt by SB 202. And one of the most egregious ways - if they come in and say, OK, well, we don't like the turnout in Fulton County, they can physically overturn our count - our vote - our count of the vote. And so that is the worst of this bill.

INSKEEP: Meaning this changes who gets to determine whether the election was fair and should be certified. Let me get you to answer, though, the claim of Republican lawmakers who say, listen; we're just making this consistent, and there are some smaller counties where voting will be expanded. Maybe it'll be shrunk a little bit in Fulton County, but that's just fair. How do you answer that?

ABDUR-RAHMAN: What I answer is this is legislation that is built on a big lie. If you look at this legislation, had it been in place in the November and the January election, we would have had a different turnout. And so when you have legislation that's put in place built on a lie, then this legislation is meant to turn back the hands of time and effect brown and Black communities and access. I mean, when you're talking about Raffensperger not being - having to certify the vote and the legislator to certify it and them removing the chairs or removing the election boards across the county at their whim, then there's no other way to look at this with Jim Crow, racist, turn-back-the-time legislation.

INSKEEP: Now, let me ask you about the tactic that you're using to try to roll this back. You would like a boycott of big national brands like Delta and Coke. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta, who I'm sure you know well, says she's deeply concerned about unintended consequences because, quote, "when you boycott these companies, you're boycotting jobs for our community." Is she right?

ABDUR-RAHMAN: No, she isn't. I'm a supporter of our mayor, but I support Major League Baseball for being on the right side of history. Hank Aaron was a close friend of our family, and he lived in our neighborhood for years, and I know if he were still with us, he would support the league's move. I often say, you cannot have civil rights without silver - S-I-L-V-E-R - because all of these companies during the Black Lives Matter movement aligned themselves and say they respect it, where if you say you respect Black Lives Matter, then recognizing that Black dollars matter, too, should be equally important. And the only way the Republican legislator here or society will understand, with the corporate citizens, is to show them that if they can't, you know, support Black and brown, they definitely will respond to green.

INSKEEP: I guess we should note that in Fulton County, it's going to be harder to vote, but people can still vote. Do you intend to use this law as motivation to encourage people on your side to vote?

ABDUR-RAHMAN: Actually, at our next commission meeting, I will sponsor a county legislation that will direct our staff and our county attorneys to find every possible way for my county, Fulton, the largest voting bloc in Georgia, to fend off SB 202. We may end up being the next one to file a lawsuit. We may have to find, you know, a clever way to work around these Jim Crow tactics. We have a floor full of lawyers, and we're going to make this job No. 1 - No. 1 for them in the coming weeks. This is very serious to us.

INSKEEP: And in a few seconds, how do you respond to outside strategists or Republican strategists who say, listen; you just united the Republican Party; we're united on this.

ABDUR-RAHMAN: Well, their person lost, and so you can't turn back the hand of time. We're going to move forward. We've made our decision at the ballot who needs to be our president, who needs to be our Congress, and we want to keep that in place. There was no voter fraud, and so we will make sure that we fight against voter fraud here in Fulton County.

INSKEEP: Commissioner Khadijah Abdur-Rahman of Fulton County, Ga. Thanks very much for the time.

ABDUR-RAHMAN: Thank you. Take care. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.