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Georgia senators introduce measure allowing voters to have access to water while waiting

Georgia senators introduce measure allowing voters to have access to water while waiting
© Greg Nash

Democratic Georgia Sens. Raphael WarnockRaphael WarnockPast criticism of Trump becomes potent weapon in GOP primaries Why the Democrats need Joe Manchin Bipartisan senators introduce bill to protect small businesses from cyberattacks MORE and Jon OssoffJon OssoffStacey Abrams calls on young voters of color to support election reform bill MLB calls lawsuit over All-Star Game 'political theatrics' Georgia agriculture commissioner launches Senate campaign against Warnock MORE introduced legislation this week allowing voters to have access to water while waiting in line to vote.

The measure — called the Voter’s Access to Water Act — is a direct response to a provision in their home state's controversial new voting law, Senate Bill 202, which among its many reforms strictly limited providing food and drink to people standing in line to vote.

The law has come under intense scrutiny from activists and corporations since Gov. Brian KempBrian KempNorth Carolina county reverses course, ends coke machine ban MLB All-Star game to stay in Denver, judge rules MLB calls lawsuit over All-Star Game 'political theatrics' MORE (R) signed it in late March, and at least five lawsuits have been filed challenging it.

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The provision of S.B. 202 states no person can “solicit votes in any manner or by any means or method, nor shall any person distribute or display any campaign material, nor shall any person give, offer to give, or participate in the giving of any money or gifts, including, but not limited to, food and drink, to an elector ... on any day in which ballots are being cast.”

Poll workers could still make available “self-service water from an unattended receptacle to an elector waiting in line to vote.”

Warnock and Ossoff's bill would prohibit states from banning the provision of food and water to voters waiting in line as long as volunteers are not engaging in campaigning or political activity, and as long as food and water are offered to every voter.

Ossoff said in a Tuesday statement that the bill “will ensure a nonpartisan, Good Samaritan volunteer can offer voters in line a bottle of water without fear of criminal prosecution.”  

The move comes as Democrats and Republicans spar over voting rights amid former President TrumpDonald TrumpKushner lands book deal, slated for release in 2022 Biden moves to undo Trump trade legacy with EU deal Progressives rave over Harrison's start at DNC MORE’s baseless claims that the 2020 presidential election is stolen.

The Senate Rules Committee is marking up its version of Democrats' massive voting rights bill, S. 1, on Tuesday. Ossoff, who is on the Rules committee, is expected to introduce the Voter’s Access to Water Act as an amendment to S. 1.

The House passed its version of the For the People Act, H.R. 1, on a party-line vote in early March. The measure has become a priority for progressives, and the Biden administration has advocated for its passage.