The Surry County Board of Commissioners has voted to remove 12 Coca-Cola vending machines from the county’s office buildings because the company’s chief executive officer criticized Georgia’s new election law.
On May 17, the Republican commissioners voted 2-2, with one commissioner abstaining. Under the board’s parliamentary rules, Commissioner Larry Johnson’s vote to abstain counted as a “yes” vote because he didn’t state a reason for abstaining, Commissioner Eddie Harris said.
The commissioners’ official vote tally was 3-2 to approve the ban, Harris said.
“It’s a reflection of corporate America trying to affect public policy,” Harris told the Journal on Thursday. “These unelected CEOs are trying to change the political dynamics of this country.”
“And I don’t think they should be able to do that,” he said. “They need to stick to trying to sell their products and be more respectful to all of their customers.”
In April, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia signed legislation that adds a photo ID requirement for voting absentee by mail, cuts the amount of time people have to request an absentee ballots and limits where ballot drop boxes can be placed and when they can be accessed. It also bans people from handing out food or water to voters waiting in line.
James Quincey, Coca-Cola’s chief executive in Atlanta, criticized the legislation during an interview on CNBC.
“It does not promote principles we have stood for in Georgia around broad access to voting, around voter convenience, about ensuring election integrity,” Quincey said. “This legislation is wrong and needs to be remedied.”
Harris sent a letter to Quincey in which Harris said that the 2020 presidential election was flawed.
“Millions of Americans believe that the last presidential election was not held in a fair manner and that more voter fraud will occur in the future if elections are not more closely monitored and regulated,” Harris wrote in his letter.
The vending machines have not yet been removed from the Surry County buildings, Harris said.
A representative of Coca-Cola Consolidated has spoken with the Surry commissioners about the ban, said Brian Nick, a company spokesman.
The company’s 37 employees “who live and work in Surry County are passionate about serving our customers and consumers in this area,” Nick said in a statement.
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