Walmart, Delta, and Coca-Cola refused to join hundreds of other companies in opposing restrictive voting laws - here's why

Natasha Dailey
·4 min read
Georgia polling place
A voter walks to the entrance during early voting for the Senate runoff election, at Ron Anderson Recreation Center, Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020, in Powder Springs, Ga. Todd Kirkland/AP Todd Kirkland/AP

While hundreds of major companies signed a new letter Wednesday opposing restrictive voting rules in the wake of Georgia's election law, some notable ones - including Walmart, Coca-Cola, JPMorgan, and Delta Air Lines - declined to join the effort.

The letter, which ran as a full-page ad in the Wednesday edition of The New York Times and Washington Post, opposed "any discriminatory legislation" that limited people's ability to vote. United Airlines, American Express, Facebook, Target, investor Warren Buffett, and others joined the effort.

Last month, a smaller group of companies signed a letter with similar sentiment organized by Black business leaders.

But, the Times reported, several companies declined to sign Wednesday's letter, including Georgia-based Coca-Cola, Delta, and Home Depot, as well as Walmart and JPMorgan Chase.

"We publicly made our own strong statement last month about the critical importance of every citizen being able to exercise their fundamental right to vote," a spokesperson for JPMorgan said.

The bank's chief executive, Jamie Dimon, was one of the first major business leaders to speak out against the law, saying on CNN that he encourages workers to exercise their right to vote and opposes any efforts that would prevent them from doing so.

When asked about not signing onto Wednesday's statement, a spokesperson for Home Depot said: "We've decided that the most appropriate approach for us to take is to continue to underscore our belief that all elections should be accessible, fair and secure and support broad voter participation, and to continue to work to ensure our associates in Georgia and across the country have the information and resources to vote."

Read more: Corporate America's response to Georgia's new voting laws isn't benevolence. It's about economics and profit, experts say.

A Walmart spokesperson told Insider the company supports the Business Roundtable's recently issued statement, which CEO Doug McMillon was heavily involved in drafting. The statement "affirms that the right to vote and the integrity of our elections are cornerstones of our democracy," the spokesperson said.

In a note to employees, McMillon said the company is "not in the business of partisan politics," noting that the retailer focuses on business issues such as taxes and regulation. In the note, he added that "broad participation and trust in the election process" are essential to the integrity of elections.

A Coca-Cola spokesperson said the company hadn't seen the letter initiated by the Black Economic Alliance but is open to hearing their perspective.

The company said it has "spoken up in support of the foundational right to vote," and added that, "We believe the best way to make progress now is for everyone to come together to listen, respectfully share concerns and collaborate on a path forward. We remain open to productive conversations with advocacy groups and lawmakers who may have differing views. It's time to find common ground. In the end, we all want the same thing - free and fair elections, the cornerstone of our democracy.

The beverage-maker faced consumer boycotts last month for not doing enough to oppose the bill. It later said it wanted to be "crystal clear" that it was disappointed in the outcome of the Georgia voting law. That sparked former President Donald Trump, a noted Diet Coke fanatic, to tell his followers to protest the company.

Delta declined to comment. Amid pressure to condemn the Georgia voting law, Delta CEO Ed Bastian blasted the legislation last month, saying it was "based on a lie."

In March, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed the election bill, known as SB202, into law. The legislation made ballot drop boxes permanent, but only at select locations during limited hours, and shortened the window for requesting absentee ballots. The law also banned ballot selfies, and expanded early voting dates and hours in most counties, among other restrictive measures.

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