Surry County, North Carolina, officials voted to remove Coca-Cola vending machines from all government facilities in response to the beverage company’s CEO’s comments about Georgia’s contentious new voting law.
The ban was enacted by a 3-2 vote of the Board of Commissioners on May 17 in response to Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey’s comments calling the voting law “unacceptable” and “a step backwards.”
Commissioner Ed Harris provided a copy of a letter he sent Quincey in which he criticized the company’s “corporate political commentary favoring the Democratic party” and announced the decision to remove Coca-Cola machines from government facilities. “Our Board felt that was the best way to take a stand and express our disappointment in Coca-actions, Cola’s which do not reflect the majority of our citizens’ views,” he wrote. “Our Board hopes that other organizations across the country will take similar stances against Coca-Cola, and we sincerely hope that future marketing efforts and comments from your company will be more considerate of all your customers’ perspectives.”
Quincey is one of many people who have spoken out against Georgia’s new Republican-backed voting law, which was enacted in preparation for the 2020 presidential election after former President Donald Trump lost the state by less than 12,000 votes. Coca-Cola is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.
“Voting is a fundamental right in America, and we have long championed efforts to make it easier to vote,” Quincey said in a statement posted on the Coca-Cola website on April 1. “We want to be clear and say unequivocally that we are disappointed with the outcome of Georgia’s voting legislation. Throughout Georgia’s legislative session, we provided feedback to members of both legislative chambers and political parties, opposing measures in bills that would limit or discourage voting access.”
The new law extends the period for early voting in the general election, but it also adds more barriers for voters. Anyone voting by absentee ballot must show a driver’s license or state ID, and if that is not available, they must provide additional proof of identity. Early voting drop boxes will also be placed in early voting locations rather than additional locations that may be more convenient for some voters, such as local government buildings and libraries.
The legislation also removes the secretary of state’s authority to oversee elections and replaces it with a new chair of the State Election Board. Trump called Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in January and asked him to “find” enough votes to help Trump in the state. Raffensperger pushed back and continued to do his job.
Harris stated in the letter to Quincey that the beverage company supports “the out-of-control cancel culture and bigoted leftist mob” when it chooses which social issues to speak out about.
“When asked why he didn’t make public comments about politics, Michael Jordan once said, ‘Republicans buy sneakers too,'” Harris wrote. “Citizens in Surry County and across the country are growing increasingly tired of large multinational corporations and their CEOs imposing an increasingly intolerant, bigoted, left-wing, divisive political agenda on their customers.” A Coca-Cola spokesperson stated that the company is aware of the backlash in Surry County.
In an email, a Coca-Cola spokesperson said, “Representatives from our local bottler have reached out to the county commissioners, and they look forward to continuing their productive conversations with those officials.”