Georgia law makes it a crime to give food, water to people waiting to vote
One of the most notable parts of the new Georgia voting law signed by Gov. Brian Kemp (R) on Thursday is that it would make it illegal for people to provide food or water to voters as they wait in lines to cast their ballots.
The new law includes giving food and water in a section on electioneering that places new restrictions on the practice. It compares food and drink to gifts that might be given to a voter.
The provision has repeatedly been highlighted by critics of the sweeping legislation, which some have said might have left Georgia in former President Trump’s column if it had been the state’s law in November.
President Biden in a statement issued by the White House on Friday called the law “Jim Crow in the 21st century.”
“If you want any indication that it has nothing to do with fairness, nothing to do with decency, they passed a law saying you can’t provide water to people standing in line while they’re waiting to vote?” Biden told reporters later, singling out that provision.
“You don’t need anything else to know that this is nothing but punitive, designed to keep people from voting. You can’t provide water for people about to vote. Give me a break,” he said.
The law, SB 202, states that “[n]o person shall 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.”
GOP lawmakers who have supported the measure say the provision on food and water was included in an effort to prevent the solicitation of votes and electioneering, or influencing voters.
The law states that poll workers under the law could still bring water from a fountain, or bottles of water, to people in line.
I was proud to sign S.B. 202 to ensure elections in Georgia are secure, fair, and accessible. I appreciate the hard work of members of the General Assembly to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat. pic.twitter.com/1ztPnfD6rd
— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) March 25, 2021
The law has been criticized by voting rights groups as potentially suppressing the vote of Black voters.
These groups have noted that Black voters in the state often can be waiting in long lines for a chance to vote, and they see the water and food provision as targeting such voters.
The law would also limit the use of ballot drop boxes in the state and require Georgia voters to produce photo ID for absentee voting, among other things.
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