Georgia businesses face enormous pressure to oppose voter suppression bills

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Home Depot and Coca-Cola — both headquartered in Atlanta — have said they are 'aligned' against bills seeking to make it harder to vote in the state.

As Georgia Republicans race to pass laws that would make it harder to vote in the state, voting rights activists are pushing major companies headquartered in the state to come out against the bills in an effort to halt GOP lawmakers from making the changes.

Voting rights groups, unions, and members of the clergy in the state are putting pressure on businesses including Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Delta Air Lines, UPS, and Aflac to come out against the GOP-introduced legislation in the state.

If the GOP bills are signed into law, Georgia would require ID to vote by mail, bring back the need for an excuse to vote absentee, make it a crime to hand out food and drink to voters waiting in line, and cut back on early voting on Sundays — a measure that directly targets Black voters who organize caravans to take parishioners to vote after church services.

Already, activists protested at Coca-Cola's "World of Coca-Cola" museum in downtown Atlanta over the weekend.

"Coca-Cola has donated over $30,000 to politicians co-sponsoring voter suppression bills while referring to themselves as allies to the movement. Join us at The World of Coca-Cola this weekend to take action!" the group Black Voters Matter, which is fighting against the voter suppression bills, tweeted on Friday ahead of two planned days of protest at the museum.

Black Voters Matter has also highlighted donations corporations have made to Republican lawmakers who have co-sponsored the voter suppression bills in the state.

What's more, Groups have put up billboards in Atlanta, according to CNN.

"Hey Coca-Cola! The Freedom to vote tastes good to all Georgians," reads one billboard, paid for by the group the New Georgia Project, which seeks to help register voters in the state and help encourage people to vote. "Join us: STAND UP for Georgia."

Black Voters Matter, the Georgia NAACP, the New Georgia Project, and Georgia STAND-UP took out a full-page ad in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday saying that voter suppression bills passed by the Georgia state House and Senate "are part of a targeted attack to undermine the voting rights of Black voters." The ad included names, addresses, and phone numbers of the heads of major corporations in Georgia, and urged supporters to "let them know we expect them to stand up and support Georgia voters."

So far, the groups have notched minor victories.

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce on Friday issued a statement expressing "concern and opposition" with the bills, the Washington Post reported. Coca-Cola and Home Depot told the Washington Post that they are "aligned" with the Chamber's statement.

Ultimately, voting rights advocates are sounding the alarm about the massive Republican effort in Georgia and across the country to make it harder to vote in following Donald Trump's 2020 loss.

Republicans claim the bills are needed to stop voter fraud. However, the 2020 election was not marred by fraud, and GOP politicians cannot point to evidence that fraud occurred.

Marc Elias, a lawyer who fights voter suppression laws in court, called the hundreds of bills Republicans are trying to pass through state legislatures the "largest state-level legislative attack on voting since the end of Jim Crow."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.