Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Demonstrators wear chains while holding a sit-in inside the Capitol building in opposition of House Bill 531 on March 8, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Demonstrators wear chains while holding a sit-in inside the Capitol building in opposition of House Bill 531 on March 8, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo: Megan Varner/Getty Images)

Activists Demand Georgia-Based Corporations Like Coca-Cola End Complicity in GOP Assault on Voting

"It is a dangerous thing for the business community to be silent."

Jake Johnson

Racial justice activists in Georgia this week intensified a pressure campaign aimed at forcing major corporations headquartered in the state's capital—from Coca-Cola to Home Depot to UPS—to end their complicity in the GOP's sweeping assault on voting rights and actively combat the draconian disenfranchisement efforts currently making their way through the legislature.

A coalition of civil rights groups—including Black Voters Matter, the New Georgia Project Action Fund, the Georgia NAACP, and other organizations—is urging is members and supporters to "contact CEOs, presidents, and headquarters of major Georgia-based corporations" and demand they cut off financial support to state Republican lawmakers and forcefully speak out against the voter suppression effort, as CNBC reported over the weekend.

"Black buying power contributes more than $106 billion to Georgia businesses every year—and the dollars we spend shouldn't go to politicians who are working to suppress our votes with racist legislation."
—Service Employees International Union

The groups have also placed advertisements in local newspapers and held protests at the World of Coca-Cola, the state Capitol building, and other Atlanta locations.

Given that many large Atlanta-based companies bankroll the Republican lawmakers behind the new voter suppression bills, activists are hoping that the threat of major financial consequences as well as massive public backlash will help stop the disenfranchisement push, which is part of a nationwide Republican assault on voting rights.

"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," Black Voters Matter co-founder Cliff Albright told CNBC.

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Workers United and Progress Georgia joined the fray on Monday, issuing a joint statement condemning major corporations for "spending months running public message campaigns claiming to support Georgians' freedom to vote, but then staying silent when GOP lawmakers—who have received tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions from these corporations—are leading this assault on Black, Latino, and [Asian American and Pacific Islander] voters."

"Black buying power contributes more than $106 billion to Georgia businesses every year—and the dollars we spend shouldn't go to politicians who are working to suppress our votes with racist legislation," SEIU said on Twitter.

Apparently feeling the heat, Coca-Cola, Delta, and other corporate giants released mealy-mouthed statements this week calling ballot access a "foundational right" and vowing to "engage with state lawmakers"—but not taking any concrete positions on H.B. 531 or S.B. 241, bills that have been described as two of the most extreme attacks on the franchise since the Jim Crow era.

H.B. 531 passed the Georgia House on March 1 and S.B. 241 passed the Senate on March 8. If signed into law, the legislation would significantly roll back absentee voting, curtail weekend voting days, impose more strict voter ID requirements, limit the number of available ballot drop boxes, and more.

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp has not yet said whether he would sign the measures.

Judd Legum of the Popular Information newsletter reported earlier this month that since 2018, "Coca-Cola has donated $34,750 to the sponsors of both pieces of legislation to restrict voting."

"Coca-Cola is not alone," Legum noted. "Popular Information's investigation found that, since 2018, corporations have donated $7.4 million to the sponsors of the Georgia legislation to restrict voting rights. A significant portion of this money comes from prominent national corporations that publicly profess their support for voting rights."

As of this writing, Salesforce—a software corporation based in San Francisco—is the only major company that has spoken out against either of the two Republican bills.

"It is a dangerous thing for the business community to be silent," Stacey Abrams, the former Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate and founder of voting rights group Fair Fight Action, told The Guardian on Wednesday.

"We are obliged at this moment to call for all voices to be lifted up," said Abrams. "And for the alarm to ring not only through the communities that are threatened directly, but by those businesses that rely on the durability of our democracy."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

Bush, Pressley, and Omar Sleep Outside Capitol to Demand Extension of Eviction Moratorium

Rep. Cori Bush, who was formerly unhoused, slammed her Democratic colleagues who "chose to go on vacation early today rather than staying to vote to keep people in their homes."

Jake Johnson ·


As Progressives Call for End to Blockade, Biden Announces More Sanctions Against Cuba

The move comes after Democratic leadership in the House blocked an amendment to roll back limits on how much money people in the United States can send to family on the island nation.

Jessica Corbett ·


Progressives Issue Dire Warning as House Bill to Extend Eviction Moratorium Dies

"If Congress does not act now, the fallout of the eviction crisis will undoubtedly set us backwards as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravish our communities, needlessly contributing to more death and destruction."

Brett Wilkins ·


Citing Donziger Case, Dems Raise Alarm About Use of Private Prosecutors in Federal Court

Private prosecutions of criminal contempt charges, said a pair of senators, "are highly unusual and can raise concerning questions of fundamental fairness in our criminal justice system."

Jessica Corbett ·


'About Damn Time': DOJ Says Treasury Department Must Give Trump's Tax Returns to Congress

"This case is now bigger even than Donald Trump's crimes. Neither the courts, nor the machinery of our government, exist to bodyguard a corrupt private citizen from transparency."

Jake Johnson ·