Activists are organizing a boycott of major Atlanta-based corporations such as Coca-Cola over their apparent refusal to condemn a GOP-backed elections bill making its way through the Georgia legislature.
The AME Sixth Episcopal District said it would be calling for a statewide boycott of Coca-Cola until it expressly comes out against the legislation.
Bishop Reginald Jackson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution 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.”
The bill, which passed the George General Assembly's House of Representatives Thursday, would create new voter ID laws and limit ballot drop boxes. It would also shorten the timeframe for runoff elections, required when no candidate reaches 50% of the vote in Georgia, from nine weeks to four weeks. The state Senate will now debate the bill, which must be finalized by next Wednesday, the end of the year’s legislative session in the state.
“We will speak with our wallets,” said Jackson, who leads more than 400 churches in Georgia.“This past summer, Coke and other corporations said they needed to speak out against racism. But they’ve been mighty quiet about this.”
Jackson said boycotts are also possible for companies like Home Depot and Delta Airlines.
Coca-Cola has come under increasing pressure to take a definitive stance against the legislation. Earlier this month activists held a die-in at the company’s tourist attraction in downtown Atlanta.
The legislation passed on a party-line vote in the House Thursday. Republicans said the bill would drum up confidence in election systems after former President Trump and his allies spread unproven claims that Georgia’s presidential race vote count had been tainted with fraud.
The proposal would require those requesting absentee ballots to present a driver’s license or state-issued ID number. The current system relies on signature matching. It would also more heavily regulate ballot drop boxes, requiring them to be placed at early voting locations and only available while the precinct is open, as well as ban outside groups from passing out food and water to voters standing in line.
The bill would also wrest election authority from Georgia’s secretary of state. The legislature would instead appoint a chair of the state election board.
While Democrats claim the bill is “anti-voting” legislation, Republicans say the bill would expand voting accessibility, with two mandatory early voting days on Saturdays and giving counties the option to hold early voting on two Sundays. Earlier versions of the bill had limited early voting on Sundays, a popular time for Black churchgoers to head to the polls.
Gov. Brian Kemp has publicly endorsed a provision of the bill that requires ID for absentee voting, but has not otherwise weighed in.
Coca-Cola said in a statement it supports a “balanced approach to the elections bills that have been introduced in the Georgia Legislature this session.”
“The ultimate goal should be fair, secure elections where access to voting is broad-based and inclusive,” the company added.