Officials in Surry County, North Carolina, voted to remove Coca-Cola machines from all government facilities in response to the beverage company CEO's remarks about Georgia's controversial new voting law.
The ban passed during a Board of Commissioners meeting on May 17 with a 3-2 vote as a direct response to Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey's comments calling the voting law "unacceptable" and "a step backwards."
Commissioner Ed Harris provided TODAY with the copy of a letter he sent Quincey, calling out the company's "corporate political commentary favoring the Democratic party" and announcing 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-Cola's actions, which are not representative of most views of our citizens," he wrote. "Our Board hopes that other organizations across the country are taking similar stances against Coca-Cola and sincerely wishes that future marketing efforts and comments emanating from your company are more considerate of all your customers' viewpoints."
Quincey has been one of the many voices speaking out against Georgia's new Republican-backed voting law, which was enacted in response to the 2020 presidential election after former President Donald Trump lost the state by fewer than 12,000 votes. Coca-Cola is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.
"Voting is a foundational right in America, and we have long championed efforts to make it easier to vote," Quincey wrote in a statement published on Coca-Cola's website on April 1. "We want to be crystal clear and state unambiguously that we are disappointed in the outcome of the Georgia voting legislation. Throughout Georgia’s legislative session we provided feedback to members of both legislative chambers and political parties, opposing measures in the bills that would diminish or deter access to voting."
The new law lengthens the times for early voting in the general election, but it also creates more obstacles for voters. Anyone who chooses to vote by an absentee ballot must show a driver's license or state ID, and barring that, must submit additional proof of their identity. Also, early voting drop boxes will be placed in early voting locations, instead of in additional locations that might be more convenient for some voters, such as local government buildings and libraries.
The legislation also strips authority from the secretary of state to oversee elections and instead creates a new chair of the State Election Board. In January, Trump called Georgia's Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, and asked him "to find" enough votes to help Trump in the state. Raffensperger pushed back and continued to do his job.
In the letter to Quincey, Harris said the beverage company supports "the out-of-control cancel culture and bigoted leftist mob" when it chooses the social issues it wants to speak up about.
"Michael Jordan once said 'Republicans buy sneakers too' when asked why he didn't make public comments about politics," Harris wrote. "Citizens of Surry County and across America are growing increasingly tired of large multinational corporations and their CEOs pushing an increasingly intolerant, bigoted, left-wing, divisive political agenda on its customers."
A spokesperson for Coca-Cola told TODAY that the company is aware of the backlash in Surry County.
"Representatives from our local bottler have reached out to the county commissioners, and they look forward to continuing their productive conversations with those officials," the Coca-Cola spokesperson said in an email.