State Watch

Coca-Cola threatened with boycott for not opposing Georgia voting bills

Georgia activists are planning to launch a boycott of Coca-Cola Co., one of Atlanta’s largest and most well-known companies, over its apparent refusal to denounce a GOP-backed bill in the Georgia legislature that would limit voter access.

Speaking to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the AME Sixth Episcopal District said they will be calling for a statewide boycott of Coca-Cola’s products until the company publicly comes out against the proposed voting measures that would impose new ID requirements and change when voters could submit their ballots.

Bishop Reginald Jackson told the Journal-Constitution that he hopes this boycott will show that if “Coca-Cola wants Black and brown people to drink their product, then they must speak up when our rights, our lives and our very democracy as we know it is under attack.”

“We will speak with our wallets,” Jackson added. “This past summer, Coke and other corporations said they needed to speak out against racism. But they’ve been mighty quiet about this.”

Prior versions of the election legislation had included ending early Sunday voting, which voting activists had criticized as racist, pointing to a history of Black churches using Sundays to get voters to polls. Georgia GOP lawmakers dropped their proposed plan for ending early Sunday voting last week, along with the legislation to eliminate no-excuse absentee voting.

Coca-Cola said it supported a “balanced approach to the elections bills that have been introduced in the Georgia Legislature this session,” in a statement to the Journal-Constitution. “The ultimate goal should be fair, secure elections where access to voting is broad-based and inclusive,”

The House is expected to vote on election legislation Thursday, the newspaper reports. The Georgia legislature must negotiate a finalized version of the bill by next Wednesday, when this year’s legislative session ends.

“We believe voting is a foundational right in America and access should be broad-based and inclusive,” Coca-Cola said in a Thursday statement to The Hill.

“Throughout the legislative session, we have been active with the Metro Atlanta Chamber in expressing our concerns and advocating for positive change in voting legislation. We, along with our business coalition partners, sought improvements that would enhance accessibility, maximize voter participation, maintain election integrity and serve all Georgians,” the statement said.

Although Coca-Cola has not come out staunchly against the legislation, it previously released a statement saying it was “aligned” with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s concerns regarding the bills. Several other Atlanta-based companies such as Home Depot and Delta Air Lines also released statements in support of voting rights, without denouncing the GOP-backed legislation.

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce released a statement earlier this month saying it “supports accessible and secure voting while upholding election integrity and transparency. Simply put, we believe that it should be easy to vote, hard to commit fraud and that Georgians should have faith and confidence in secure, accessible, and fair elections.”

—Updated Friday at 10:58 a.m.

Tags Atlanta Boycott Criticism of Coca-Cola Georgia The Coca-Cola Company voting rights

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