Coca-Cola, Home Depot and other major corporations come out against GOP-led voter suppression laws
The two Georgia-based companies have stood against efforts in their home state and elsewhere in the U.S.
Coca-Cola and Home Depot, two major corporations based in Georgia, have voiced their opposition to the GOP-led efforts to restrict voting access in the state.
Major corporations such as Aflac, UPS, Southern Co. and Delta Air Lines have been facing pressure from civil liberties groups to take a stand against legislation advancing in the Georgia General Assembly that would complicate the process of voting, especially for racial and low-income marginalized groups.
Cliff Albright, co-founder of Black Voters Matter told CNBC why groups like his are pushing for corporations to join the movement.
Hey @CocaCola @Delta @HomeDepot @aflac @UPS, it’s really not that hard to issue a direct statement that doesn’t play “both sides”. Expecting to see next steps from @salesforce, but this is stronger than the others have said. @JuddLegum @rolandsmartin @MaddowBlog @thelauracoates https://t.co/iVYF0K7Lcl
— Cliff Albright (@cliff_notes) March 16, 2021
“We’ve got the power of organized people. They’ve got the power of organized money. And between us and them, we could put pressure on these legislators or, worst case scenario, the governor to kill these bills,” Albright said.
Black Voters Matter, the Georgia NAACP, and the New Georgia Project Action Fund launched the most recent phase of their campaign in local press and on social media, asking supporters to directly contact CEOs, presidents and headquarters of major Georgia-based corporations.
The civil liberties groups are urging these corporations to publicly speak out against the proposed voting restrictions and to stop donating money to the Republican legislators sponsoring the bills.
On Tuesday, March 16, Coca-Cola came forward and opposed Georgia’s proposal to restrict voting, but it appears that the decision was a reluctant one that was followed by fierce criticism from civil liberties groups.
On March 3, Black Voters Matter posted a list on Twitter of all the corporations that have donated money to the politicians currently sponsoring these voter suppression bills, and Coca-Cola was on the list.
Good morning! We’re back at again! @aflac can’t say Black Lives Matter one minute and then finance voter suppression against Black people the next. Hit the link in our bio and hold them accountable today! #LetGAVote #GeorgiaOnTheLine pic.twitter.com/a1OSX1Y7da
— New Georgia Project Action Fund (@ngpaction) March 18, 2021
But for now, the corporation has committed to standing against the advancement of these bills.
The Georgia Chamber of Commerce issued a statement to CNBC, expressing its “concern and opposition” to provisions in two bills, SB 241 and HB 531, that seek to restrict voter access.
Both Coca-Cola and Home Depot told The Washington Post that their companies are “aligned” with the chamber’s statement.
New statement from the Georgia Chamber of Commerce says it opposes "provisions found in both HB 531 and SB 241 that restrict or diminish voter access"@CocaCola, @Delta, @UPS, @HomeDepot, @aflac, @SouthernCompany are all membershttps://t.co/Ke9B7NekES pic.twitter.com/bPc43SDXUI
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) March 14, 2021
A representative from Delta Airlines told the Post that it backs an “election system that promotes broad voter participation, equal access to the polls, and fair, secure elections processes,” but stopped short of actually opposing the bills in Georgia’s legislature.
UPS and Aflac made similar statements to CNBC, endorsing fair and secure elections.
The two bills, SB 241 and HB 531, would establish widespread changes to voter access, including limited access to drop boxes, restricting early voting hours, curtailing early voting on Sundays, and more. Record turnout, including from Black voters, led to flipping the state blue in the 2020 presidential election and in January’s two Senate runoffs.
The bills are among more than 250 pieces of legislation proposed in 43 states that would restrict voting, having the greatest impact on low-income, disabled, people of color and other marginalized groups.
Former Georgia lawmaker Stacey Abrams, a leading Democratic voting rights activist, has called the efforts to restrict voter access racist and “a redux of Jim Crow in a suit and tie.”
“We know that the only thing that precipitated these changes, it’s not that there was the question of security,” she announced on CNN, referring to false Republican claims of electoral fraud.
“And so the only connection that we can find is that more people of color voted, and it changed the outcome of elections in a direction that Republicans do not like,” Abrams added.
Other Georgia corporations have taken an active side on legislation in the past but for the most part have kept their silence in political debates.