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Coca-Cola CEO condemns Georgia voter suppression measures: ‘This legislation is unacceptable’

‘It is a step backward and it does not promote principles that we have stood for here in Georgia,’ James Quincey says

Danielle Zoellner
New York
Wednesday 31 March 2021 22:48 BST
Georgia lawmaker arrested and removed from state Capitol
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Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey has spoken out against the recent changes to voter laws in Georgia that activists said would suppress voters, calling the new legislation "unacceptable".

"We always opposed this legislation," Mr Quincey said on Wednesday when speaking to CNBC.

"Let me be crystal clear and unequivocal, this legislation is unacceptable, it is a step backward and it does not promote principles that we have stood for here in Georgia, around broad access to voting, around voter convenience, about ensuring election integrity, and this is frankly just a step backwards," the British-born businessman added.

Coca-Cola, which has its headquarters in Georgia, alongside other companies has faced pressure from political activists to speak out and condemn the SB202 legislation that was signed last week by Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican.

In a statement released on Monday, the company said that it was "disappointed in the outcome" but it didn't "see this as the final chapter" in Georgia regarding voter laws.

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Mr Quincey did not explain why the company avoided initially condemning the legislation after it was signed into law last week, but said the company would be "more forceful" in its perspective.

"The reality is many things are improved and done and achieved in private, without having to take a public stance, but in this case it does not work, clearly," Mr Quincey said. "And so, we're being more forceful in our public position even more than we were earlier this week, and we'll continue to advocate for change in Georgia."

The controversial bill, known as SB202, implemented several major changes to voting that could impact Georgians in future elections. These changes included giving state officials ultimate power over county election boards – meaning a Republican-run state like Georgia could potentially disqualify Democratic voters.

The bill also implemented voter ID requirements for absentee ballots, limited ballot drop boxes, and made it illegal to bring food or water to voters waiting in line.

Preventing food and water for queueing voters has especially caused controversy in the state given Georgia was notorious for long voter lines, specifically in non-white precincts.

The bill has already been hit with three separate lawsuits since it was signed into law last week.

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian spoke out against the legislation this week in a memo sent to staff members. He said the law is “unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values.” The company is also headquartered in Georgia.

Leaders of Citibank, Merck, and American Express have also spoken out about the law, with some encouraging more corporate leaders to condemn the move.

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