September 25, 2022

Would Georgia Bill Outlaw Giving Food, Water to Voters Waiting in Line?

Prior to we attend to the bill directly, some context: Because some individuals in the states city locations must typically wait in long lines to cast ballots, voting rights groups and other volunteers have served pizza, chips, hot chocolate, and other food to keep people comfy and avoid them from leaving prior to they vote.

On March 3, 2021, a left-leaning Twitter account posted the below-displayed image that declared the Georgia Legislature authorized legislation that would allow law enforcement officers to criminalize volunteers who give totally free food or water to voters standing in line at ballot websites on Election Day.

The claim was true.

In a news release sent around the 2020 presidential election, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger alerted versus the declared “line warming,” arguing it might easily become partisan groups influencing hungry voters to pick a specific candidate and breach existing Georgia law governing voter intimidation at polls. The press release read:

Raffensperger, a Republican, stated he sent tips to survey workers to look for any groups campaigning or attempting to get individuals to vote against their choices– with or without food– near ballot sites, despite the reality that Georgia law at the time (and since this writing) did not explicitly consist of food-giving as restricted conduct to allegedly keep elections complimentary and reasonable.

Political organizations or advocacy groups will use the giveaways or gifts, referred to as “line warming,” to wrongly affect voters in the important final moments prior to they cast their tallies. Such efforts violate the securities Georgia law has placed on campaigning near a ballot location or voting line and the prohibitions on providing rewards to voters that were enacted to stop pay-for-vote plans.

Cue the Georgia General Assemblys actions in March 2021. 2 days before @ReallyAmerican1 published the above-displayed tweet, the Republican-led House voted 97-72 to authorize a policy package to change election and voting laws in the state (HB 531), according to legislative records.

The procedure would update existing state arrangements to consist of the following underlined language, according to a copy of the expense acquired by Snopes:

In amount, thinking about the truth the Georgia House on March 1, 2021, approved an expense to update misdemeanor offenses at surveys to consist of “the giving of any cash or gifts, including however not limited to, food and drink,” based on legal records, we rate this claim “true.”.

As of this writing, the Senate, which likewise holds a Republican bulk, had not gone over or voted on the step, according to Georgia General Assembly records.

” Clearly, the attack is based on when it is and how it is that they know Black citizens are being activated to turn out,” stated Cliff Albright, co-founder of the Atlanta-based Black Voters Matter, to CNN. “They understand that they cant win elections if we really expand access to voting and even if we just keep it.”

Nevertheless, voting rights groups and Democrats attempted to push back on the idea to make food-giving a criminal offense, framing it as one of lots of proposals to try to prevent Georgia homeowners from ballot.

In other words, the legislation would offer authorities legal authority to penalize individuals with misdemeanors if they are caught, for whatever factor, offering free food or water to voters within 150 feet of a building where people are casting ballots.