The new election law in Georgia is already controversial. Many of its regulations, in fact, are going to make voting more difficult.
One, for example, makes it illegal to give food and water to people waiting to vote. This will affect particularly marginalized communities and BIPOC people.
No Food Or Water For Voters
Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed the new election law earlier this week. Among other things, it forbids handling food or water to voters in line.
The rule applies within 150 meters from a polling place. Anyone breaking the law will be guilty of a misdemeanor.
The law 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.”
According to Gov. Kerb, the law will “ensure elections in Georgia are secure, fair, and accessible.”
A Way To Limit Vote For People Of Color
Many consider this an attempt to discourage people of color, who often support Democrats, from voting. In their precincts, in fact, the lines during elections are often long.
Rev. Tim McDonald, an influential Black pastor, is already thinking about civil disobedience against the law. He explained:
“We will make a movement out of that. You know something is wrong when you can’t give grandma a bottle of water and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”
In future elections, he plans to break the law with other members of his church. They will do so by giving water to elderly people in line and try to get the police to arrest them.
Targeting BIPOC voters
Attorney Walter Shaub considers the law a way to make it difficult for people of color to vote. He criticized the measure, tweeting:
“Georgia’s bill would make it a crime to give free food or water to voters standing in line for hours and hours. But we know who these politicians force to stand in line all day long. I’ve never once stood in line for even five minutes where I get to vote. This racism is thorough.”
After the recent presidential elections, Republican-led legislatures joined to promote similar laws. Their goal is presumably to keep Blacks and people of color away from the polling places.
In December, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger had already promised to stop “line warming.” He claimed that giving food and water to voters waiting is a way to “inappropriately influence voters in the crucial final moments before they cast their ballots.”
For sure, this law is going to create more political conflict. As targeted measures continue to affect marginalized groups, they will keep causing discontent in society.