Georgia Bans Handing Out Water to Voters Waiting in Line, Because ‘Election Integrity’
Republicans rush through a ream of voting restrictions in Georgia. A new law that Georgia’s GOP is peddling as an “election integrity” measure contains a host of problematic provisions, including a ban on handing out water or food to people waiting in line to vote and a ban on taking pictures of completed ballots (even your own).
Under the new law, “it shall be illegal for any person to…photograph or record a voted ballot.” Anyone who does so will be guilty of a misdemeanor crime.
An exception is made for the Georgia secretary of state, who will actually be required to digitize and publicize images of paper ballots. The new law creates “a pilot program for the posting of digital images of the scanned paper ballots created by the voting system.” These scanned images “shall be public records subject to disclosure.”
Those are just two of many questionable new rules for Georgia contained in the bill’s 96 pages. Another provision stipulates that no person shall “give, offer to give, or participate in the giving of any money or gifts, including, but not limited to, food and drink” to anyone within a polling place, within 150 feet of a building where voting takes place, or “within 25 feet of any voter standing in line to vote at any polling place.” (Self-service water stations are OK.)
Republicans are calling it the Election Integrity Act of 2021.
Opponents, meanwhile, have dubbed it the Voter Suppression Bill, owing to the range of new restrictions on voting that it lays out. The New Georgia Project, the Black Voters Matter Fund, and Rise Inc. have already filed a lawsuit against it.
Imagine making it a crime to offer water to people waiting in line to vote.
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) March 26, 2021
Gov. Brian Kemp and other state Republicans say the new law is necessary to stop voter fraud. But to anyone whose brain hasn’t been melted by partisan politics, it’s a pretty transparent attempt to sway election results, or at least to play to voter fraud fears. Georgia—which President Joe Biden won in 2020—was the site of extensive Trump team bellyaching, investigation, and legal maneuvering, and yet attempts to uncover the fabled widespread voter fraud never panned out.
“The bill passed both chambers of the legislature in the span of a few hours before Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed it Thursday evening,” notes CNN.
State Rep. Park Cannon (D–Atlanta), a lawmaker who knocked on Kemp’s door during the signing of the bill, was arrested and escorted out of the building by state police.
“Cannon was charged with willful obstruction of law enforcement officers by use of threats or violence and preventing or disrupting general assembly sessions,” reports NPR. “The Georgia State Constitution states that lawmakers ‘shall be free from arrest during sessions of the General Assembly’ except for treason, felony, or breach of the peace.”
Here’s more video from @TWareStevens, showing Rep. Cannon knocking on the door to the Governor’s office.
“I’mma tell you one more time to step back,” the officer says. #gapol
— stephen fowler (@stphnfwlr) March 25, 2021
Some of the most controversial earlier elements of the bill—restricting weekend voting hours, requiring an excuse to vote absentee—were nixed before passage. And not all of the measures contained in the massive new bill are controversial.
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