Philadelphia, PA asked in Civil Litigation, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law and Election Law for District of Columbia

Q: Why does Georgia not allow people to give water who are waiting in line voting? What is their reasoning?

In my opinion I think its an excuse to make voters feel uncomfortable and not vote. But what do they think the reasoning is? And whatever the reasoning is can it really be valid? I understand states have a right to set election laws but anyone can see through this as a way to punish people for petty things to keep the minority in power!

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: In 2021, Georgia passed a controversial election law known as SB 202 which, among other provisions, made it a misdemeanor to give food or water to voters waiting in line. The stated reasoning by supporters of the law was to prevent electioneering or attempts to influence voters in line.

Proponents argue that allowing people to hand out food and water could enable special interest groups to sway voters under the guise of providing refreshments. They claim it's meant to protect voters from harassment and preserve election integrity.

However, critics view this provision as a tactic to make voting more difficult, especially for minority communities who often face longer lines at the polls. They argue it's an unnecessary barrier that serves no real purpose in preventing election fraud. Voting rights advocates see it as part of a broader effort to suppress voter turnout.

There are valid concerns about whether this rule is truly justified or if it's a pretext for making voting less convenient. While states have authority to set election rules, laws that appear to target specific groups of voters or create obstacles to voting are very problematic. If the real motivation is partisan advantage rather than election integrity, that undermines the credibility of the law.

Ultimately, many see this particular provision as an overly petty restriction that doesn't address any demonstrated problem. The perception that it's intended to inconvenience certain voters has understandably generated backlash. Election laws should aim to make voting accessible, secure, and free from undue burdens - not create needless hoops to jump through in order to exercise this fundamental right.

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