Election Integrity Act: Georgia Makes Giving Voters To Water Illegal
“If you can’t beat them, deprive them of food and water” is the new motto of the Republican-controlled Georgia state government, as GOP Gov. Brian Kemp has signed a new law restricting voting access.
Under the new law, the Election Integrity Act of 2021, it is now illegal to hand a Georgia voter a bottle of water as they wait in line to perform their civic duty. The Act states:
"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.”
The law applies within 150 feet of a polling place or within 25 feet of any voter at a polling place. Violations of the law are classified as misdemeanors.
Long a red state, Georgia flipped Democrat blue during the 2020 election due to a surge of voters turning up at the ballot box — both early in-person and by mail. That has had incumbent GOP leaders scrambling for a way to close them back out, and they moved swiftly to pass the controversial legislation.
Historically, there have been fewer polling places in communities of color and in urban areas, often leading to long wait times for electors. The new law aims to discourage people from staying in line and effectively disenfranchises them.
One local pastor is already planning to stir the pot with civil disobedience, saying his church members will “dare the police to arrest someone giving water to an elderly person waiting to vote.”
"We will make a movement out of that," the Rev. Tim McDonald, senior pastor of Atlanta’s First Iconium Baptist Church told CNN. "You know something is wrong when you can't give grandma a bottle of water and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich."
Republicans insist the new law will boost confidence and "ensure elections in Georgia are secure, fair, and accessible.”