BY Chris Walker
Buried in a bill passed in the Georgia House this week is a provision that makes it a crime to give out refreshments to voters waiting to cast ballots.
Republicans in the Georgia House of Representatives on Monday passed an elections bill that would require ID to vote by mail and cut back on early voting on Sundays, the latter a provision voting rights advocates say is directly aimed at suppressing the vote of Black Georgians, who often organize caravans to vote after church services.
Hidden in the 66-page bill is another provision that would make it a crime to give out food and drinks to voters waiting in line to cast their ballots.
According to the text of the bill, no person is allowed to “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 … [within] 25 feet of any voter standing in line to vote at any polling place.”
Groups like Pizza to the Polls, a nonpartisan nonprofit launched in 2016 to help people waiting in long lines to vote, sent hundreds of pizzas to voters waiting to cast ballots in Georgia’s Jan. 5 Senate runoff elections. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock won those elections, putting Democrats in both of Georgia’s U.S. Senate seats for the first time since 2003.
Celebrities had publicized Pizza to the Polls’ efforts during the runoff elections, hoping to encourage those waiting in long lines at polling sites to stay until they’d cast ballots.
But if the bill becomes law, it could stop groups like Pizza to the Polls from helping feed people who are forced to wait in the long lines to cast a ballot that result from the state’s restrictive voting laws.
“Why do we have to add in making it illegal to give a bottled water to someone? If we’re really not trying to suppress the vote, why are we even making giving water to someone an issue?” Democratic State Rep. Patty Bently told 13WMAZ.
Democratic Rep. Kimberly Alexander said that GOP lawmakers are ramping up voter suppression efforts after two incumbent Republican U.S. senators and former President Donald Trump lost the state in recent elections.
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