From S.B. 202 (emphasis added):

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 is1818established; (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."

This has been discussed at length in the news:

At best, this seems unnecessary. Is there evidence of political operatives seeking to sway elections by handing out water? At worst, it's cruel: Georgia is hot, and long lines at polls are well documented.

What is the rationale behind this restriction? I am interested in public statements from officials in Georgia -- I understand many opposed to this bill believe the intent is to suppress the minority vote, but the GOP must have some reason that doesn't sound evil.


8 Answers 8


The rationalization stems from similar proclamations across multiple states against voter intimidation or vote-buying. Nobody should have the fact that they're stuck in a line be taken advantage-of by people trying to change who you're going to vote for.

Georgia is already not allowed to have campaign posters, imagery, or even campaign t-shirts within 150 feet of a polling place, has made it illegal to offer someone (within 150 feet of a polling place) a bribe to vote the way you want them to, and to threaten to harm or actually harm someone to influence their vote.

In addition, two other provisions in the new law help set up a situation of long lines to vote in urban counties. The first provision (lines 430-435) says that counties cannot solicit third-party funds to be able to afford to increase access, and if they ever do allow such funding, it will be distributed equally amongst counties. This means that urban counties (which skew both poorer and higher population-density) are going to have fewer resources with which to open new polling places or expand hours of existing ones. The second provision (lines 1488-1518) expands early voting for some rural counties (which rarely need the extra capacity) but restricts early voting for urban counties (because they're already running at/over capacity) by restricting early voting to a smaller period and only during the 9-5 workday.

Now, someone who is standing in line for more than three hours to vote is going to reeeeeally want food and water, and is thus much more vulnerable to someone trading food or drink for votes. So rather than just prohibit campaign literature on food or water given to a person (which already exists), they decided to ban the practice entirely.

Now, it isn't a huge stretch of the imagination to see what they want to happen because of this: people in urban counties (which skew left) will have to wait so long in line to vote that (assuming they didn't bring food and drink with them) they'll have to step out of line in order to eat/drink/go to the bathroom and thus will eliminate themselves from the voting pool.

  • 7
    Please provide a source for the given "rationalization".
    – agc
    Apr 4, 2021 at 0:38
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  • 27
    Of course, a better way to prevent people being bribed with food and water for their votes would be to expand voting access so that nobody will have to stand in line for hours on end and wind up hungry and thirsty. Apr 5, 2021 at 12:41
  • 4
    I wonder if volunteers couldn't set "stock up" booths on the edge of the exclusion zone, like "before you get in line, here's a bottle of water and a granola bar"
    – Sidney
    Apr 5, 2021 at 15:17
  • 1
    @GeorgeWhite if you convince the victim that you can find out how they voted, the secret ballot doesn't help, no matter how secure the ballot actually is
    – llama
    Apr 5, 2021 at 16:25

The point is to make voting harder and, therefore, to discourage it. By preventing volunteers from giving out food and water to voters, it makes the wait to vote (which can stretch to hours in some places) more unpleasant and discourages voters who are less motivated from waiting it out.

This is in keeping with the long-standing push from the US right to shrink the electorate. This is not necessarily about gaining a partisan electoral advantage. The good-faith explanation for this is that the country benefits from an informed and motivated electorate, and a voter who doesn't feel strongly enough to put up with some discomfort to cast their vote is unlikely to cast an "informed" or "high-quality" vote.

Representative John Kavanagh, a Republican legislator who chairs Arizona’s Government and Elections Committee and who is pushing through their own set of voting restrictions, laid it out plainly to CNN:

Democrats value as many people as possible voting, and they’re willing to risk fraud. Republicans are more concerned about fraud, so we don’t mind putting security measures in that won’t let everybody vote — but everybody shouldn’t be voting … Not everybody wants to vote, and if somebody is uninterested in voting, that probably means that they’re totally uninformed on the issues. Quantity is important, but we have to look at the quality of votes, as well.

Similarly, David Harsanyi, a senior editor at the Federalist, argued in a Washington Post editorial in 2016:

Never have so many people with so little knowledge made so many consequential decisions for the rest of us. ... by weeding out millions of irresponsible voters who can’t be bothered to learn the rudimentary workings of the Constitution, or their preferred candidate’s proposals or even their history, we may be able to mitigate the recklessness of the electorate.

While The National Review argued last year:

The libertarian writer James Bovard famously worried about vulgar majoritarianism, the kind of democracy that amounts to “two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.” (The quip often is misattributed to Ben Franklin, among others.) The American founders by and large feared and despised democracy, which they took from their experience to be a dreary antechamber to anarchy. ...

The rising authoritarianism of our time is not an aberration but the ordinary natural fulfillment of mass democracy when it has overflowed its constitutional restraints

Whether this provision was motivated by a philosophical objection to unconstrained democracy or a predicted partisan advantage is hard to say for sure, but aim to make it just a bit harder to vote is clear.

  • 4
    -1 Quote from the OP: " I am interested in public statements from officials in Georgia" ... you give statements... none from Georgia.
    – CGCampbell
    Apr 5, 2021 at 17:21

What is the rationale behind this restriction?

The rationale given in S.B. 202 is:

(13) The sanctity of the precinct was also brought into sharp focus in 2020, with many groups approaching electors while they waited in line. Protecting electors from improper interference, political pressure, or intimidation while waiting in line to vote is of paramount importance to protecting the election system and ensuring elector confidence;

I am interested in public statements from officials in Georgia -- I understand many opposed to this bill believe the intent is to suppress the minority vote, but the GOP must have some reason that doesn't sound evil.

The content of the bill is public and was agreed to by the majority of Republican Senators and Representatives in the Georgia General Assembly.

Complaints about "voter suppression" often refer to more than giving water.

The text of the rationale from the bill, given above, "doesn't sound evil."

Is there evidence of political operatives seeking to sway elections by handing out water?

Clearly, some felt there was, though I found no specific complaints from Republicans about Democrats giving water to voters; though there were some "incidents" (see below). Apparently, only Georgia's Secretary of State is making statements about it: Georgia Doesn’t Want Voters Waiting in Line to Be Offered Free Food and Drinks.

Perhaps, it came from this type of operation, which was scheduled for the 2020 general election in a number of large cities, including Atlanta. The use of "DEMOCRACY" on the truck might be seen to subtly suggest "DEMOCRAT," or it could just be that Atlanta tends toward Democrats and Republicans want to be less accommodating to those voters.

Food truck at polling place


PolitiFact reports:

Pizza to the Polls told PolitiFact that it delivered more than 7,000 boxes of pizza and more than 65,000 snacks during the general election and Senate runoff. The group was co-founded by a 2016 Obama field organizer but says it is nonpartisan: "Ain’t nothing partisan about trying to make voting less of a drag," it says on its website. Chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen, as part of its Chefs for the Polls project, brought tacos, sandwiches and pizza to lines of voters in Georgia in 2020, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The group is also nonpartisan, but Andres supported Biden’s candidacy. [Emboldening added.]

Georgia law already bans gifts to voters

Existing Georgia law bans giving gifts "for the purpose of registering as a voter, voting, or voting for a particular candidate." That provision doesn’t mention food or water directly, but the Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has interpreted it to include food or water.

In February, the Georgia elections board referred for investigation to prosecutors a couple of cases in which candidates gave food or water to voters.

Matthew Wilson bought four pizzas and passed out slices to those in line to vote in 2018, according to Reporter Newspapers. Wilson, a Democrat who won his race for state representative, said he distributed the pizza after getting permission from a poll manager. Kelly Rose, a Democrat who lost a state senate race, told PolitiFact that her team handed out water, oranges and chips at a 2020 polling site. "A woman passed out one day we were there," Rose told PolitiFact. Rose said she didn’t campaign at the site and didn’t break the law. (A state law bans soliciting votes within 150 feet of a building where voting takes place.)

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    Where is the claim that handing out water to those who are waiting 2+ hours in line to vote is interfering, pressuring or intimidating voters? I think that is the question rather than the blanket statement that it is to protect voters.
    – Joe W
    Apr 2, 2021 at 16:07
  • Thanks for adding that additional context. IANAL, but it does seem to me that with the right challenge, none of this would stand up in court.
    – LShaver
    Apr 5, 2021 at 14:09

Well, to play devil's advocate here, von Spakovsky on the Heritage Foundation site says this:

The polemical taunts are directed toward two of the bill’s provisions, one that extends the state’s decade-old ID requirement to absentee ballots, and another that attempts to prevent campaigns and party activists from trying to corruptly influence voters by providing them with money, gifts, food, and water in polling places. [...]

So giving water (in person) is seen by the GOP as "corruptly influenc[ing] voters". And

By the way, unmentioned in the hysterical criticisms is new language making it ok for poll officials to make “self-service water from an unattended receptacle” available to “an elector waiting in line.”

How exactly is the "unattended receptacle" supposed to make its way down a long line (on its own??) is left unsaid. I've done a bit more searching but it's still rather unclear to me if one voter waiting in line (closer to the self-service water machine) passing a "receptacle" with water to another voter violates the [new] law or not. A strict reading of the text highlighted in the question suggests that it is a violation and an article in the Hill agrees with that reading. So I guess if you're too far from the self-service machine to service yourself in person, tough luck for you. Politifact has also looked at this. Apparently some GOP spinsters (e.g. Josh Holmes) have said on Fox News (and then repeated on other venues) that only political organizations are thus prohibited; so this seems to be part of the attempted justification in public. But that's not what the law actually says.

Holmes emphasized in an email to PolitiFact that water is allowed, but from an unattended receptacle. And he repeated his assertion that the law is targeted at preventing people from political organizations from making such handouts.

"I was responding specifically to the repeated claims that it criminalized water at the polls," Holmes told PolitiFact. "In reading the statute and speaking with Georgia officials, I understand that the intent of the statute is to deter electioneering at the polls, which is consistent with many other state laws. What I thought required clarification about the claim of criminalizing water, is that this Georgia statute was not silent on the issue. It specifically addressed the manner in which it may be provided."

But the language in the law doesn’t ban only political entities from handing out water.

Similarly, the National Review has a long piece that defends the Georgia law claiming it is very similar to that of e.g. Montana, even though the language in the latter's prohibition is obviously [at least trying to be] more narrow: "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 [...]"

A few notes about "Pizza to the Polls" (as it seems from Rick's answer that was a real motivator here). The strange thing about this is that Raffensperger said it was already illegal in Georgia, before this law. But others [outside of the GOP] disagreed (and seemingly there were no prosecutions of such operations under the old law), so I guess the new law was intended to make this indisputably clear, although I can't find an actual quote from a GOP member saying precisely that. (Instead there's plenty of vague argumentation like the stuff further above.) Here's Atlanta magazine recounting (in March) when this law was still at proposal/bill stage:

Issues(s): Line warming

What does the law currently say? When hours-long lines form at polling sites, you might see folks arrive with bottled water, snacks, and even slices of pizza to pass out to voters while they wait. But the process has long endured a bit of legal questioning. In an article last year exploring whether or not volunteers were legally allowed to offer food or drinks to voters, Henri Hollis of the AJC described the practice of “line warming” as one that “falls through the cracks.”

“At the crux of the issue are both federal and state laws meant to prevent special-interest groups from ‘rewarding’ voters for casting their ballots. The law is meant to prevent groups from buying votes through money or other means,” he writes. “However, according to attorney Dara Lindenbaum, counsel for the nonprofit voting rights group Fair Fight Action, there’s a loophole [in the old law]: As long as anyone, such as poll workers or passers-by, can partake in the offerings, the food and drink are clearly not a reward to voters.”

What would change? HB 531 is the bill that takes direct aim at “line warming.” It aims to make this practice a misdemeanor offense.


Volunteers, including celebrities and prominent figures, notably gave out food and water during the 2020 general election in an effort to convince voters to remain in line. But Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has said line warming violates the Georgia law that prohibits campaigning near polling locations. According to 11 Alive, Reffensperger said the practice could “inappropriately influence voters in the crucial final moments before they cast their ballots.”

So, given that motivation, it seem somewhat clear that the new law was intended to ensure the illegality of anyone but poll officials via impersonal means giving (just) water (but apparently not food) to voters... because the old GA law was apparently unclear in this regard if those freebies were [personally] made available to anyone else around. GA GOP officials seemingly won't admit to this part though, i.e. that the old law had a loophole in this regard. It seems they [also] want to argue that it was always illegal to give food or drinks at the voting line.

Here's the Dec 2020 Raffensperger press release (via AJC) where this was made more clear, in regard to the old law:

The bulletin also reminds elections officials that offering food, drinks, or other items of value to voters waiting in line or those who have already voted is forbidden under Georgia law (OCGA § 21-2-570). Georgia['s old] law explicitly states that “Any person who gives or receives, offers to give or receive, or participates in the giving or receiving of money or gifts for the purpose of registering as a voter, voting, or voting for a particular candidate in any primary or election shall be guilty of a felony."

But there are those who think Raffensperger may be interpreting Georgia law more strictly than need be. [...]

Whatever those disputes the interpretation of the old law might have been, it's clear enough that the new law was made to explicitly fit the broader kind of prohibitions desired by Raffensperger (and probably much of the GOP in GA).

Some GA GOP officials like Gabriel Sterling have since then gone on record to claim both of the above prongs that had already been mentioned by other GOP figures:

  • that (in Georgia) giving water was used as excuse to talk to and thus influence voters, and
  • that other states, including Delaware (this was singled out as punch on Biden as his home state) already banned giving water to voters in line.

I'm omitting the quotes from Sterling here because they are included in DrSheldon's answer. But I'll point out that the Washington Post gave Sterling "two Pinocchios" for the last statement. In WaPo's view, it takes a fair bit of interpretation to read the Delaware law that way, because it isn't very specific. I'm also going to note here that there's a parallel between how Sterling interpreted the Delaware law and how Raffensperger interpreted the old Georgia law. Basically, in their view, giving water to voters in line was already illegal in Georgia and in other states.

  • 2
    As I've mentioned elsewhere, the GA law forbids my offering a drink of water to my wife - or a cookie while waiting in line
    – BobE
    Apr 4, 2021 at 2:47
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    @BobE No sensible person would consider me giving my wife water, which she already owns, a gift. Apr 5, 2021 at 12:44
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    @ThomasMarkov The same could be argued for the aforementioned "pollsters" giving out food and water-- it's not a "gift", it's a "public service that voters deserve". Arguing semantics of terminology always devolves into meaningless wordplay, but of course that's the nature of legislation I suppose...
    – Onyz
    Apr 5, 2021 at 14:46
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    @Markov assuming that you are using community property to defend, try this: offering water to my biological/adopted sister or brother. The point is that the framers of this legislation wanted to prohibit political activists from providing comfort to voters waiting in line. But they wrote the law in wider more universal terms that are not very specific to their objectives.
    – BobE
    Apr 5, 2021 at 21:44
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    @Fizz No need for a court or a jury, the police can just release the alleged criminal without charge after the polls have closed. Arresting someone for, at best, dubious reasons and then simply releasing them a few hours later is quite a common occurrence.
    – Eric Nolan
    Apr 6, 2021 at 9:39

The idea isn't restriction of voting, but restricting something called electioneering

Each state has some form of restriction on political activities near polling places when voting is taking place.
These restrictions usually include limiting the display of signs, handing out campaign literature or soliciting votes within a pre-determined distance (typically 50 to 200 feet) of a polling place. Some states also address what apparel voters can wear within polling places

So imagine that you're going to vote and people in political T-shirts are standing outside the polling place handing out food and/or water bottles (something that actually happened in Georgia in Nov 2020). It's also possible in this day and age that the water bottles have custom-printed political message labels on them. It's pretty hard not to see how that's electioneering.

From the full text of SB 202 (starts at line 1872)

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."

A recent National Review article interviewed the two representatives who wrote and sponsored it

The reason for the new provision was to cut down on the real, and increasingly abused practice of line warming, which already was against the law in Georgia, the authors of the state House and Senate election-security bills told National Review. The two bills were eventually merged into Senate Bill 202, which was signed in late March by Georgia governor Brian Kemp.
The food-and-drink provision of Georgia’s law is based on a similar provision in New York state’s election law, state Senate majority leader Mike Dugan said.

New York statue says this

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

Going back to the NR interview, they specifically mention why it says "any person"

“The part that was getting a little bit carried away was, ‘We’re not campaigning. We’re handing out free drinks and snacks,’” Dugan said. “Let’s take it to the extremes. Let’s say the Proud Boys decided they were going to come and stand outside of precincts and pass out water and go up and down the lines. That could be taken by some as voter intimidation.”

The new law clarifies that handing out money or gifts — including food and drinks, or really anything else of value — to voters in line is prohibited for everyone, regardless of their political or nonpolitical intent. “We don’t really want to put the poll workers in the position to have to define (political intent) constantly all day long,” Fleming said.

Multiple states across the political spectrum ban the practice of handing out food and/or drink outside a polling place on election day. The reason for the "any person" restriction is that people were engaging in electioneering activities in 2020 and 2021. Nothing in the law prohibits you from doing these things outside the 150ft/46M perimeter of a polling place.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – JJJ
    Apr 6, 2021 at 2:04

The day after the Georgia governor signed the law, PBS Newshour correspondent Lisa Desjardins interviewed a spokesperson for the Georgia Secretary of State's office, which oversees elections:

Lisa Desjardins:

To discuss the new law, Gabriel Sterling is the chief operating officer of the Georgia secretary of state's office. He's a Republican.

They basically have two arguments. The first is a claim that handing out water was already being used as a workaround for the ban on campaigning at polling sites:

Lisa Desjardins:

You know what is making headlines, of course, is this ban on handing out food and water at the polls. I understand you made the argument that, in the last election, there may have been some activists who used giving out water as an excuse to talk to voters.

First, do we know that that happened? And, second, if so, why not just enforce the campaign ban? Why eliminate giving out food and water?

Gabriel Sterling:

Well, the main thing is, it's been used as a work-around to get around that law.

Note how the official dodged the reporter's question "do we know that that happened?"

The second claim is that it is not a new idea, and particularly that President Biden's home state already banned giving out water:

Gabriel Sterling:

And the irony of this, as we looked it up, this is actually the law in the president's home state of Delaware right now. So, this is not some new thing that's been brought out. This is pretty standard across the country to avoid those kind of loopholes where people can go and campaign and try to influence voters in the line.

And that's been the law in this state for decades. This was a work-around. People sort of abused it. It's hard to enforce for elections officials and sheriffs. Like I said, it's the law in the president's home state of Delaware. So I'm surprised that shock isn't being held for his own state legislature, who passed the same thing.

Lisa Desjardins:

Gabriel Sterling, with the Georgia secretary of state's office, thank you for talking with us.

@Jontia linked to a Washington Post story that specifically disproved Sterling's claim from this PBS Newshour interview.

So that's the rationale of Georgian election officials. Whether or not it is supported by facts, this is what they believe.

  • 3
    I'm a little uncomfortable with rebroadcasting a straight up statement like the second claim without any follow through on its validity. The Washington Post for example says it is false and Delaware does not prohibit handing out water. washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/03/29/…
    – Jontia
    Apr 5, 2021 at 16:03
  • @Jontia: I have added in some counter-evidence to the Georgian election official's claims, but remember that the question is "What is their rationale." Whether that rationale is justified by facts is a completely different question.
    – DrSheldon
    Apr 5, 2021 at 19:15
  • There is an important difference between 'justified by the facts' which is a matter of opinion and being wrong about the facts. Thanks for including the WP link though.
    – Jontia
    Apr 5, 2021 at 20:56
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    FWTW, regarding Sterling's claim: skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/50571/… Apr 5, 2021 at 23:19

The food and drink restriction is a reaction to well publicized splashy free-food events in voting lines during the 2020 elections. The bill is fixing a presumed "pizza loophole" in vote-buying. That's the formal justification: in the future free food might be used for vote-buying.

Pizza to the Polls, started handing out slices during the 2016 elections. They bring a truck with a big American flag painted on, and a "Democracy / Delicious" logo. They went to 29 cities in 2020, including Atlanta. To a conservative Georgian this looks like an out-of-state group interfering with their elections, trying to embarrass their state.

But that's just the tip. This The Eater Oct 28th article (an on-line national magazine) describes how Chefs for the Polls, who were already giving away free meals to people who needed them, decided to have food give-aways near polls, including in Atlanta. The article also describes studies that this increases voter turnout. So there it is in black-and-white: free food is a way to increase Democratic voter turn-out (which is where the long lines are).

An Oct 30 Atlanta Journal-Constitution article describes the legal issues. Giving food to only voters is a grey "vote buying" area, but setting up near a polling place and giving food to anyone is legal -- described as a loophole. It describes Gwinnett county (a 1/3rd black Atlanta suburb) refusing an out-of-state donor wanting to send pizzas to voting lines. Then later "armed residents" confronting other free-food volunteers. It also describes the term "line warming" as giving free food and water to improve waiting in long voting lines. Summed-up, conservative Georgians are aware of "line warming", vaguely link it to illegal vote-buying, don't like it, and probably think there should be a law against it.

This Dec 30 Atlanta TV station Alive-11 atricle describes Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger's (the same one Trump famously called to say he only needed 11,780 votes) press release. Raffensperger again calls it "line warming" but redefines it to mean warming them to your candidate with free food. He's running with the previous vote-buying theme, implying that it's happened. The article says there have been no complaints about that. Even so, he goes on to say it could be used to influence voters, and so on.

That seems like a pretty straight line to Section 2.13 of the bill. SB202 "...with many groups approaching electors while they waited in line. Protecting electors from improper interference, political pressure, or intimidation while waiting in line to vote...". Clearly, the "many groups" can only be the free food groups.

To sum up, free food for people waiting to vote in Atlanta really is a thing. It increases Democratic turn-out, highlights what seems like unfair voting processes, and became a political issue as a result. The Georgia legislature seems to have 1/2-convinced themselves there really was and will be illegal vote-buying with these Yankee "line warmers". As for evidence, many in Georgia are sure there was cheating somehow -- the president told them so over and over. In a climate like that "this seems suspicious" counts as evidence.

  • 3
    Voter turn out vs democrat turn out need substantiating. If long lines only exist in Democrat voting areas I'm surprised such structural and obvious partisan disenfranchisement is allowed in a modern democracy. To worry about people giving out drinks while the system works to stop certain types of people voting would appear indefensible.
    – Jontia
    Apr 5, 2021 at 15:51
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    @Jontia: long lines in minority areas are definitely real in GA; it's that that doesn't seem wrong to the GOP npr.org/2020/10/17/924527679/… "An analysis by Stanford University political science professor Jonathan Rodden of the data collected by Georgia Public Broadcasting/ProPublica found that the average wait time after 7 p.m. across Georgia was 51 minutes in polling places that were 90% or more nonwhite, but only six minutes in polling places that were 90% white." Apr 6, 2021 at 12:03
  • From all stuff that Trump's side said, I don't recall free food being an argument that there was voter fraud. Their arguments were voting machines, counting procedures and what not, but I don't recall anyone of Giuliani and co. bringing up free food. Apr 7, 2021 at 2:44
  • @Fizz hmmm...my point is that they were primed to see hanky-panky after the president insisted there was. Not sure just now how to word that better. Apr 7, 2021 at 2:55

Please note that I'm not saying any of the justifications are good or have anything to do with anyone's other reasons for passing the law. This is just the justification publicly given by politicians in Georgia.

Politicians in Georgia are justifying it by saying that "giveaways or gifts" to people waiting in line can influence how they vote (if I give you a nice gift, you think I'm a nice person and vote for me).

But how does water become a "giveaway or gift"?

This is a tactic which can be called "moving the line". Since the law doesn't like large grey areas, it's reasonable to argue that a line must be drawn at some point (this side of the line is OK, that side of the line is Wrong). But having drawn a line, someone can take advantage of a series of small steps in order to move the line towards one position or another. If everyone agrees that X is wrong and should be banned, then X+epsilon, where epsilon is a very small change, seems to also be wrong. So if X+epsilon is wrong, then X+epsilon+epsilon...you get the picture.

To show how ridiculous this is, we can also do this in reverse:

Giving people water is OK (not bribery). If giving people water is OK, then giving someone juice should be OK. If giving someone juice is OK, then giving someone a soda is OK. .... So giving someone an Isabella Islay whiskey, price USD 6 million (yup) is OK and definitely not bribery.

Ideally neither side would do a large amount of line moving, so that the line would end up inside the grey area for both sides (although in some cases there may be no shared grey area).

  • @JoeW That's the point--by starting the line somewhere in the "clearly (one side)" category and then slowly moving it, you can end up with the line somewhere entirely on the other side! (Surely a 6 million dollar bottle of whiskey could influence someone, so from there...) Apr 5, 2021 at 14:36
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    Often the most up-voted answers are off-topic, and it's easy to read them and "answer the answers", forgetting the Q. What is wrote is plausible, and a decent answer to some other Q. But whe OP was wanting statements by Georgia officials, and a rational for "why water, why now"? Maybe they were worried about bribing with whiskey (although Bourbon is more of a Georgia drink), but was that a real issue? Did they say or imply that? Apr 5, 2021 at 16:08

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