State Representatve Don Parsons Website

Information Regarding Providing Food And/Or Water To Electors in Line to Vote

RE: The House Substitute to SB 202, The Georgia Election Integrity Act of 2021

 

 

I have received many questions about this particular part of the Election Integrity Act of 2021. There has been a tremendous volume of misinformation and outright lies distributed about the entire measure, and about this specific issue, in particular.

 

The Election Integrity Act of 2021, regarding the influencing of votes while in line to vote and inside a polling place, simply adds specific good government language that makes it clear that it is illegal to offer or provide food or water to an elector within 150 feet of the outside perimeter of the building in which the polling place is provided.

 

It is very plain to see that the new language does two (2) things:

 

1.    Adds language to provide certainty and specificity that, in addition to the already existing language in law, which states, “no person shall solicit votes in any manner or by any means or method . . . within 150 feet of the outer edge of any building within which a polling place is established - that the the giving of any money or gifts, including, but not limited to, food and drink within 150 feet of the outer edge of any building within which a polling place is established is illegal.

2.    Provides that a poll officer can make available self-service water from an unattended receptacle to an elector waiting in line to vote.

  

Some Important Notes

  • Voters can still bring bottled water or other food or beverages with them to stand in line to vote.

  • While state laws vary, many other states have electioneering bans:

In Montana, on election day, a candidate, a family member of a candidate, or a worker or volunteer for the candidate’s campaign may not distribute alcohol, tobacco, food, drink, or anything of value to a voter within a polling place or a building in which an election is being held or within 100 feet of an entrance to the building in which the polling place is located. § 13-35-211, MCA

New York makes “Furnishing money or entertainment to induce attendance at polls” a class A misdemeanor, and explicitly includes handing out “meat, drink, tobacco, refreshment or provision” unless it is worth less than a dollar and the person providing it is not identified:

New York, cont.,  Any person who…in respect of any election during the hours of voting…gives or provides, or causes to be given or provided, or shall pay, wholly or in part, for any meat, drink, tobacco, refreshment or provision to or for any person, other than [poll workers and other voting officials], except any such meat, drink, tobacco, refreshment or provision having a retail value of less than one dollar, which is given or provided to any person in a polling place without any identification of the person or entity supplying such provisions, is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. N.Y. Elec. Law § 17-140

President Biden’s own home state of Delaware bans giving gifts or rewards to voters in presidential primary elections:

Whoever…pays, transfers or delivers, or offers…any money, or other valuable thing as a compensation, inducement or reward for the giving or withholding or in any manner influencing the giving or withholding a vote…shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $5,000 or imprisoned not less than 1 month nor more than 3 years, or both. 15 Del. C. § 3167

Below, I have provided a copy of the language that existed in Georgia law, regarding voters standing in line to vote, as it existed prior to the enactment of the House substitute to SB 202 on March 25, 2021, and also a copy of the language as it exists currently, with the enactment of the legislation.

 

Georgia Code, Prior to Enactment of Election Integrity Act of 2021, Regarding Electors in Line to Cast Vote at a Polling Place

 

"(a) No 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 solicit signatures for any petition, nor shall any person, other than election officials discharging their duties, establish or set up any tables or booths on any day in which ballots are being cast:  

(1) Within 150 feet of the outer edge of any building within which a polling place is  

established;

(2) Within any polling place; or  

(3) Within 25 feet of any voter standing in line to vote at any polling place.  

These restrictions shall not apply to conduct occurring in private offices or areas which cannot be seen or heard by such electors."  

(e) This Code section shall not be construed to prohibit a poll officer from distributing materials, as required by law, which are necessary for the purpose of instructing electors or from distributing materials prepared by the Secretary of State which are designed solely for the purpose of encouraging voter participation in the election being conducted.”

 

 

Georgia Code, With the Enactment of Election Integrity Act of 2021, Regarding Electors in Line to Cast Vote at a Polling Place

(New Language in Bold)

 

 

"(a) No 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, nor shall any person solicit signatures for any petition, nor shall any person, other than election officials discharging their duties, establish or set up any tables or booths on any day in which ballots are being cast:  

(1) Within 150 feet of the outer edge of any building within which a polling place is  

established;  

(2) Within any polling place; or  

(3) Within 25 feet of any voter standing in line to vote at any polling place.  

These restrictions shall not apply to conduct occurring in private offices or areas which cannot be seen or heard by such electors."  

 

(e) This Code section shall not be construed to prohibit a poll officer from distributing materials, as required by law, which are necessary for the purpose of instructing electors or from distributing materials prepared by the Secretary of State which are designed solely for the purpose of encouraging voter participation in the election being conducted or from making available self-service water from an unattended receptacle to an elector waiting in line to vote.”

 

 

Summary of SB 202

Synopsis of SB 202

Read the bill

 State Representatve Don Parsons Website